[EDITORIALS]For Kims, it's bye-bye-bye

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[EDITORIALS]For Kims, it's bye-bye-bye

One notable phenomenon in this year's presidential election is the exit from the political scene by the so-called three Kims, who have dominated Korean politics for decades. President Kim Dae-jung has distanced himself from the election and announced neutrality. Although some critics blamed him for doing nothing to quell mounting anti-U.S. sentiment that has become a key factor in this election, the president seems neutral enough.

The influence of Kim Young-sam, President Kim's predecessor, has also ebbed. The former president announced that he would endorse Lee Hoi-chang, a conservative Grand National Party candidate. But he did not attract much attention. Compared with the enormous political clout he once wielded, the former president's stature looks pitiful.

By contrast, Kim Jong-pil, head of the United Liberal Democrats and the only one of the three Kims remaining on the political scene, still shows his political acrobatics. His declaration of neutrality has emerged as a delicate factor that could affect the neck-and-neck presidential race, which is just one day away. His political shrewdness is still admirable. But his tactical behavior is unpleasing to the public, who wants to see a dignified exit by the three political principals. His impartiality is not considered a decision made with agony, but a result of his endless and detestable political calculations.

The ULD leader claimed that the GNP candidate does not have the qualifications for a president and that the radical leftist Millennium Democratic Party should also not win the presidency. He blasted the GNP for "stealing" his party's lawmakers, while attacking the governing MDP for pledging to relocate the nation's capital city without even asking the public. He is detaching himself from both parties probably because it is the best option for his political survival. The strategy may turn out to be a clever choice made in consideration of a new political map that would be drawn after tomorrow. Since the military coup that he led on May 16, 1961, he has been leading the country's politics. His last political choice of neutrality is making the end of the three-Kim era miserable.
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