[EDITORIALS]How Roh can reach goalsRoh Moo-hyun took office yesterday as Korea’s 16th president. The theme of his inauguration speech was “The Age of Peace, Prosperity and Takeoff.” It was meant to symbolize the direction that Mr. Roh will lead the country in during the next five years.
He emphasized the pursuit of a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue and a strengthening of the alliance with the United States. The statement that North Korea should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons capabilities and the call for a peaceful solution to the issue might appear to be contradictions. But it is the only available choice for us on this issue.
His proposal to strengthen cooperation with the United States and Japan to resolve this issue is appropriate. And the promise to build on the last 50 years of the alliance with the United States for an equal partnership is also a necessary statement. The differences in views between Seoul and Washington and the apparent schism after his election should not be left unattended. A firm alliance with the United States will be the foundation of peace, prosperity and takeoff.
Another point in the speech that catches our attention is President Roh Moo-hyun’s commitment to national reconciliation. He said it is now the most important task for Koreans, and he is right. Our society has been rent by religious, regional, generational and class differences. Without healing the wounds, there can never be peace or prosperity. And with the arrival of a new administration, the past must be put aside for good.
The question is how to pursue this goal. The new government must keep national reconciliation in mind when selecting its officials. There is little burden, as in the government of Kim Dae-jung, to appoint people according to region. What should count is ability. Also, divisions based on ideology must be mended. Ideological discord threatens national security.
The rational middle-ground must be searched for. Whatever the policy, it should not be undertaken for the sake of reform by a government just starting out. That would do a disservice to the goal of unity. Mr. Roh’s call for dialogue and compromise is the key to a new political culture and reconciliation.