[OUTLOOK]Everyone has a natural enemy

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[OUTLOOK]Everyone has a natural enemy

Hong Sa-duk, a Grand National Party assemblyman, has a "theory of natural enemies" in politics. The theory goes like this: "Rhee In-je's natural enemy is Lee Hoi-chang and Lee Hoi-chang's natural enemy is Roh Moo-hyun." Mr. Roh is the front-runner in the Millennium Democratic Party's primary, followed by Mr. Rhee. Lee Hoi-chang is the leading candidate of the Grand National Party.

Actually, Mr. Rhee's setback in the primary can be attributed to Mr. Lee. Since Mr. Rhee has always trailed Mr. Lee in the polls, he has been overtaken by Mr. Roh in the party primary. Mr. Lee is also behind Mr. Roh in the opinion polls. Politicians are now suggesting that Mr. Lee should be replaced as the main opposition party's presidential candidate. They even say Mr. Lee's defeat is inevitable. Mr. Hong's natural enemy theory ends here. Then, does Mr. Roh not have a natural enemy? I called Mr. Hong, who leads a secluded life near Daegwallyeong, a high mountain pass in Gangwon province. I asked what would be the characteristics of Mr. Roh's potential enemy.

"Above all, Mr. Roh's enemy must be from Gyeongsang provinces," Mr. Hong said.

This is because Mr. Roh is from there. Mr. Roh is a candidate from South Gyeongsang province; he is backed by North and South Jeolla provinces. So, the opposition party needs a candidate from the Gyeongsang provinces who is backed by the Gyeongsang provinces. Then, Jeolla provinces' support for Mr. Roh is expected to weaken.

Second, he must be conservative, since Mr. Roh is known as a progressive. The opposition party needs a candidate who can win the support of a large number of conservative voters. So, the enemy must be from Gyeongsang provinces and conservative.

"Do you mean Choe Byung-yul?" I asked. Mr. Choe is one of the four candidates in the opposition party's primary.

"I do not mean any particular person," Mr. Hong said. These are just theoreticals, he said. Then, he added, "Conservative people in Korea do not feel kinship with a self-proclaimed conservative."

I turned to Lee Bu-young, who is also a candidate in the GNP's primary. He had a completely different view.

"The enemy must share the same political orthodox with Mr. Roh," Mr. Lee said.

Mr. Lee meant the enemy must have progressive ideas. He elaborated on a theory of the candidate for common people. Backing of the common people along with the GNP's base support would inevitably lead the GNP to win. Mr. Lee meant a progressive candidate backed by common people who is also supported by the conservative middle class. It is based on class while the theory of a Gyeongsang province candidate is based on region. "The next condition is that he should also win support from Jeolla provinces," Mr. Lee said.

Mr. Lee meant the enemy should be able to win anti-Kim Dae-jung votes in Jeolla provinces. Thus, the enemy should not be from Gyeongsang provinces, Mr. Lee said. The enemy should be progressive but from a province other than the Gyeongsang provinces. Mr. Lee actually was referring to himself.

Then, what about Lee Hoi-chang? He is conservative but not from Gyeongsang provinces. Lee Hoi-chang only satisfies half of the two criteria proposed by Mr. Hong and Lee Bu-young. Lee Hoi-chang is the complete opposite of Roh Moo-hyun.

But let's look at it closely. The number of voters not from the Gyeongsang provinces exceeds the number of voters from the Gyeongsang provinces. There are more conservative voters than progressive voters. Nonetheless, Mr. Lee still lags behind Mr. Roh. Then, we should look elsewhere for a reason for Mr. Lee's trailing Mr. Roh in the polls. So are the conditions for the natural enemy.

Not long ago, Mr. Lee was rehearsing for a TV debate. Sample questions included queries about Mr. Lee's townhouse. Mr. Lee answered, "That's only 250-square meters [not 330-square meters as was reported] in size. My daughter used to live in southern Seoul but moved to northern Seoul [only to help parents], accepting disadvantages from moving to northern Seoul." Mr. Lee's special advisers were shocked. The answer was revised.

Lee Hoi-chang's enemy is not Roh Moo-hyun. Roh is not Rhee In-je's enemy, either. It cannot be found in certain regional backgrounds or certain political ideas.

A change is what people want. Mr. Roh has been helped by the winds of change. Regional backgrounds or political inclination comes next. A change must rule.


The writer is a senior political reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Youn-hong

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