[FOUNTAIN]A Soft Landing for Korean Politics

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[FOUNTAIN]A Soft Landing for Korean Politics

It was on December 17, 1903, that the Wright brothers flew the first heavier-than-air craft at a remote sandy area on the cost of North Carolina named Kitty Hawk.

The younger brother, Orville, flew 36 meters in 12 seconds, and Wilbur was in the air for 59 seconds and flew 260 meters.

"Flyer," the double-winged aircraft that the Wright brothers flew in, had ski-shaped landing devices in place of wheels to reduce the weight of the plane. When taking off, wooden rails were used, and when landing, the plane was designed to slide as if it were a sled. The Wright brothers risked their lives every time they attempted a landing. In fact, they were frequently injured. Historians say they were very lucky.

For a plane to make a soft landing, it has to land at the lowest speed possible. The weight of the craft, wind velocity and weather are some of the factors at work. In the movie "Die Hard 2," there is a scene in which the good guys give false information to the terrorists on a plane. The terrorists misunderstand the altitude and are killed when their plane crashes.

When trying to land, modern pilots first lower the engine's power output. Then they gently descend and further lower the engine speed as they approach the airport. They lower wing flaps to allow the plane to obtain more lift from the lower speed of the air rushing over the wings.

At the moment that it lands on the runway, the plane's nose is higher than its tail. The back tires hit the runway first, and soon the front tires touch ground and the plane rolls forward. Reverse thrust from the engines is engaged to slow the plane somewhat, and then the wheel brakes are applied. The plane has landed safely.

If we compare our history of political transitions to airplanes, we have had a series of hard landings. Guns were fired and former political powers were sent to prison after the new administration was launched. We had a history of "stepping on the bodies of war comrades," quoting Prof. Suh Jin-young, who advised President Kim Young-sam.

President Kim Dae-jung recently resigned as president of the Millennium Democratic Party and pledged that he would confine his role to wrapping up his existing initiatives so that he would not "burden" the new administration. Some argue that the president's move is a camouflage for a bigger conspiracy, but I believe they are overly skeptical. If a soft landing in our next political transition can take place, it will be recorded as another first in the history of Korea.

The writer is a political deputy news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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