[EDITORIALS]Make love, not war

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[EDITORIALS]Make love, not war

Candidates for the presidential election on Dec. 19 will register their candidacies today and start their official campaigns. This also marks the beginning of the process of clearing away the remains of the so-called "Three Kims era politics," which was symbolized by political struggles, tricks, regionalism and abuses. The upcoming 22 days before election day is an important period, during which we will see if the politics of cooperation and harmony can be rooted in our soil.

It is no exaggeration to say this is a historic moment. At such a meaningful time, it is important that the candidates and their parties show in their campaigns that they realize how important their actions are. They should not spoil the election with slander, abusive words and black money. They should not escalate social conflicts by encouraging ideological and regional confrontations. The candidates should be determined to eradicate the bad legacies of previous administrations, which failed to keep to the expected political norm. With fair competition over policies, they should give dreams and hopes to the people. They have to make the election a foundation on which the new government can start with the blessings and support of their rivals who fought in the election.

It is regrettable that our political reality so far has been far from those ideals. Slandering each other and finding fault with the other side has lasted for over a year now. Politicians tried to damage each other by repeating groundless old rumors. They talk about clearing away regionalism and overcoming ideological differences and age gaps. But their election strategies are based on those old abuses. Their policy platforms are molded to scrounge for votes and they do not mind copying popular policies of their rivals. They talk about political reform, but their behavior is more often a subject for reform.

The confrontation between the two strong rivals, Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun, is already creating a warlike atmosphere. Already we see signs of emerging regionalism -- for example, in comments such as that 80 percent of voters in the Jeolla provinces favor Mr. Roh. Politicians, wake up. Voters, open your eyes. If we lose this chance to reform, it will be a miserable defeat.

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