[EDITORIALS]House-to-house fighting

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[EDITORIALS]House-to-house fighting

The house where President Kim Dae-jung will live after retirement is creating a controversy. The house is under construction on the site of a demolished residence. The land plot is 570 square meters and total floor space will be 657 square meters. It will have eight rooms, an elevator and an indoor garden. The installation of an elevator might be because of President Kim's physical problems. But an indoor garden is not very common in Korean households. The opposition Grand National Party says the house is a luxurious building which will cost more than 1 billion won ($832,000) to complete.

Five years ago, the then-opposition party of President Kim severely criticized then-President Kim Young-sam's private home rebuilt on its old site in Sangdo-dong. When Kim Young-sam's house was built with an annex for security guards, President Kim's party said Mr. Kim was being mindful of his retired life since he had sent two former presidents to jail and claimed that it would be better for an incumbent president to take care of state affairs and the livelihood of the people than worrying over his retirement. It is an irony that President Kim, who criticized his predecessor's new house, is being criticized for building a new house of his own. The repetition of the same debate raised in the past symbolizes the backwardness of Korean politics. President Kim's new house is bigger than the former President Kim's house and is built next to the new 5-story building for the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Region. Mr. Kim will have the most luxurious working sphere among former presidents.

It is inevitable that an incumbent takes care of his old house or builds a new one, for security reasons, where he will retire. Notwithstanding, it has been a topic of political bickering and has deepened people's sense of deprivation and suspicions toward politicians.

The old controversy over a house should stop. For this to happen, the Blue House should clarify the amount of construction cost and source of money so that people will be freed of suspicions and misunderstanding. If President Kim makes an effort to convince people, his retirement life will have the aura and dignity of a former president. In addition, if he admits that his earlier condemnations of former presidents' private houses were short-sighted, it would give him added dignity.
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