[EDITORIALS]That 'socialist' slurThe "socialist" charge reportedly made by Kim Suk-jung, an analyst with the Korean Federation of Industries, seems likely to widen the skittishness between the presidential transition committee and the Korean business sector. In an interview with the New York Times published Friday, Mr. Kim is quoted as having said that the committee's "goal is socialist." Outraged and indignant, the transition committee asked the federation to explain the remark, and demanded that "relevant measures" be taken. The business advocacy group adamantly stressed that Mr. Kim's view is not an official federation stance. It seems to fear that the matter may snowball.
Mr. Kim denies the quote, so the first thing is to determine exactly what he said to the New York Times. If he was accurately quoted, Mr. Kim would find it hard to escape criticism that he spoke loosely for a person taken to represent the federation. He should have known that the word "socialist" is taken with heightened sensitivity in Korea. Even if he was airing a personal opinion, he could have chosen his words more prudently.
The transition committee should not overreact or construe Mr. Kim's alleged remarks as the federation's rebellion. Not long ago the transition members suffered scorching public scrutiny for controversial remarks, and were chided by President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, who said, "It is wrong for personal opinion to be aired as [the transition's] official opinion."
The committee should not use this opportunity to pressure the business community. If relations between the two deteriorate, the international community's already uncertain trust in Korea and the Korean economy would suffer. The truth of the article aside, the transition committee members should realize that their comments and policy orientations are a subject of study and concern by countries who may well share similar views to that of the New York Times. Committee members must take care to allay the business community's concern that it will be at a disadvantage under the new administration, and work to develop a spirit of partnership.