[NOTEBOOK]Center of the Pacific Ocean era

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[NOTEBOOK]Center of the Pacific Ocean era

My brother Moo-hyun:

Though I have never met you, I want to call you brother, because I want to have a warm and frank conversation with you at the start of the new year.

Before the presidential election, I heard some people say, "I will emigrate if A becomes president," or "I will leave Korea if B is elected." I don't know whether the people that hated you are now preparing to emigrate, but I hope that those people will remain in this dynamic country as your remark, "I will also conduct the affairs of state for the people that opposed me," comes true.

Voters gave good marks on the traces of your life based on tenacity to principles. Some voters said you were "loved by the destinies," after you cleared several hurdles that had seemed impossibly high during the campaign for the presidency

In my view, the Korean people are now facing an upturn in the fate of the country, the best since Dangun founded the first nation on the peninsula in 2333 B.C. I hope that the upturn in the fate of Korea will work in harmony with your good luck, my brother Moo-hyun.

Many people will ask how I can say that Koreans are facing an upturn of fortune even though there are dark clouds on the Korean Peninsula, including the North Korean nuclear weapons problem and the signs of an economic slowdown. But they should know that Koreans tend to be pessimistic because of their hardships over the last 100 years. Koreans tend to refuse to recognize what they have accomplished.

But we should take pride in what they have achieved. Korea's industrial competitiveness has leaped. We had not dreamed of outpacing Japan in industry even though Japanese industry had been an object of envy since the Joseon dynasty opened its ports in the late 19th century. But a few years ago, we surpassed Japan in Internet industries. The country shrugged off the late Joseon dynasty, when its palace was overrun by only 200 Japanese soldiers.

Because Koreans tend to be enthusiastic about everything, Korea is now the world's largest maker of dynamic random access memory chips, mobile phone handsets using CDMA technology, thin film transistor liquid crystal displays and ships, according to a survey by the Korea International Trade Association. The country is also ranked at the top in the ratio of subscribers to high-speed Internet services. And the country is in second place in the ratio of users of Internet shopping. Korea is ranked second in the production of television sets, fourth in output of synthetic fibers, fifth in vehicle production and sixth in steel production. The country is also improving its competitiveness in entertainment businesses, which are the industries that will lead the 21st century.

In addition, more and more Korean women are actively participating in the economy and society. We know the competitiveness of Korean women from the experience of multinational companies operating in Korea, which make the best use of their female work force. If women, sidelined until now, are given a chance to compete, we can double our economy. In addition, people in their 20s and 30s, who have sense and energy, have emerged as the new leaders of society. The 1997-98 foreign exchange crisis, a goad to Korea, will also help the country grow.

Moreover, the axis of the world has already changed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Because of our dynamism, Korea could be part of the center of the world in the new era.

So you, my brother Moo-hyun, should take the rudder of the ship to steer away from the dangers and improve Korea's strong points. You should be ready for tough navigation, because you should mediate among conflicts of interests.

A hundred years have passed since Koreans began to emigrate to the United States. I hope those migrants will make up their minds to return Korea, after seeing the improved quality of life in this country, by the time your administration ends.

* The writer is life and leisure news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Il

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