[EDITORIALS]Family favoritism, again?Family caused the downfall of past Korean presidents. Newly-sworn presidents who ambitiously took to reform and streamlining were set back by corruption of none other than their blood kin. A president, like everybody else, has sons, daughters, in-laws and others against whom he is reluctant to act, even when the taint of corruption is found. But once the dirt is dug up, downfall is wide and swift. Former President Chun Doo Hwan met a tragic end because of his in-laws and his brother. Former Presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung ended their tenures with heads down over their sons’ misdeeds. Misplaced compassion for family only heightened their tragedies.
As Roh Moo-hyun’s administration be-gins, his elder brother is at the center of controversy. In media interviews, the brother showed resumes of people who lobbied for government appointments, and spoke up for a certain candidate for a ministerial position. “Can’t a president’s brother speak his mind?” he asked. Perhaps he spoke sincerely, but he fails to understand that he is no longer a private citizen but a person in the public eye. It has been the history of Korean governance that people who are too smart for their own good take advantage of links to family and relatives to advance themselves.
The new government should respond sternly, to the point of publicly shaming those who made the appeals, in order to fulfill Mr. Roh’s pledge to bring down the entire family of anyone who would dare to lobby for an official position. A rumor is circulating that the power-hungry are saying that as channels to the president are closed, favor-seekers should tap into first lady Kwon Yang-sook’s family. Officials would do well to come up with a system to manage the presidential family and relatives. More urgently required is the president’s awareness and commitment to carrying through his campaign pledge.