Unintended Example of Bad PoliticsThe publication of former President Kim Young-sam's memoirs has set political circles abuzz. He attacked President Kim Dae-jung with the mention of his slush funds and he included details that may hurt some currently serving politicians, including Grand National Party President Lee Hoi-chang. Those mentioned have protested, and the twisted political landscape has turned even more convoluted.
It it hard to fathom why a former president laid bare things that are of no help to real politics. A president's memoir carries a value of its own as an important historical record and also as a reference for his successors on policymaking. Objective and frank self-evaluations should be the theme of a memoir, not tooting one's own horn. Readers hoped that Mr. Kim would focus on his missteps which led to the IMF bailout. Nevertheless, in two volumes totaling 800 pages, there is no sign of self-reflection in connection with the IMF situation, although he said, "I have no intention of making excuses or rationalizing as the supreme leader of national governance." He is busy passing blame to others with such phrases as, "The crucial tasks ?the Labor Law, the Kia Motor situation and financial reform ?have been thwarted because of presidential hopefuls, including Kim Dae-jung," and, "They should bear due responsibility as well."
When we reach the part where Kim Dae-jung requested five meetings with then-President Kim concerning Kim Dae-jung's slush funds and read that Kim Dae-jung repeatedly said, "Thank you," concerning Mr. Kim's decision to halt the investigation, we cannot help wondering why Kim Young-sam wanted to make this information public. We get a feeling that it is a shield against the investigation of the spy agency's funds, in which suspicion focuses on him. Kim Young-sam's memoir is embarrassing because it seems to bear witness to Korean politics' low standards, not to mention the details of the politics of the "three Kims" that the book reveals. The political wrangling over the book is nothing to be proud of. History cannot be distorted with self-serving excuses masquerading as truth. Perhaps this kind of memoir is an unintended example of why outdated politics must end.