[EDITORIALS]Do away with regionalism

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[EDITORIALS]Do away with regionalism

Ghosts of that old evil regionalism are coming alive again. Regional conflicts that we had hoped would die away with the retirement of the "three Kims," former president Kim Young-sam, President Kim Dae-jung and his one-time coalition ally Kim Jong-pil, are starting to rear their ugly heads once more. Both Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun, the two major candidates, are falling back on the old evil to rake in more easy votes. In fact, the regionalism that now surrounds us is subtler and craftier than during the time of the three Kims. The Grand National Party's Lee Hoi-chang and the Millennium Democratic Party's Roh Moo-hyun are actually encouraging regional sentiments in their pretense to criticize and renounce regionalism.

Mr. Lee calls himself a "son of Chungcheong province" while bestowing the nickname, "DJ's adopted son," on his opponent. By linking Mr. Roh personally to President Kim from the Honam region, he is trying to isolate Mr. Roh from the Busan voters in the Yeungnam region. Mr. Roh calls the unexpected support Honam has shown him the "result of a revolutionary judgment of voters" while stressing that he is still a Busan native. In this way, the two candidates denounce regionalism with their words on the surface but imply that they actually expect their home regions to stand up for them.

The recent fuss raised over the words of Kang Hye-ryun, a professor, and a Busan fish market saleswoman, reveals a typical regional fight. After comparing Mr. Roh's 97 percent support rate in the Honam region to that of Saddam Hussein in a television debate, Ms. Kang had to close her online site due to the shower of criticism mixed with profanity. Lee Il-sun, a saleswoman who promotes Busan's Jagalchi fish market, received hate calls after making a speech in support of Mr. Roh.

Such "faceless and indiscriminate terrorism" is obviously based on regionalism. The email and the hate calls were all filled with hostility toward the candidate from the other region. Shallow methods of encouraging regionalism won't create politics for a new era.
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