[EDITORIALS]A social relic persistsA group of conservatives and a group of liberals said they would hold commemoration events in front of Seoul City Hall on Friday, the Liberation Day. Free Citizens’ Alliance of Korea and other conservative groups are planning to hold a 55th anniversary event to observe the nation’s establishment and protest against North Korea’s nuclear aspirations and the Kim Jong-il regime. They will also demand that the government give up its “pro-Pyeongyang policy” and support the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
At the same time, progressive groups, including the Solidarity for Unification, the People’s Network and the Pan-National Committee that is protesting against the road deaths of two school girls at the hands of a U.S. military vehicle, will also have an anti-war rally there. A mass rally was often considered as the province solely of liberals, but the conservatives now get together as well, after feeling a sense of crisis since the launch of the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
It is a constitutional right to rally, and we do not object. But it is a problem when two groups whose interests are hostile to each other rally at the same time and the same place. If each rally has 100,000 participants, and if the people there compete vocally against each other, the possibility of violence is high.
We deplore the reality of ideological confrontation that still exists in the 21st century. We wonder if such rallies supporting obsolete ideologies of the right and left divide the people in any other country. The situation reminds us of the power struggle between the left and the right just after liberation in 1945. Are we reversing history’s clock?
The progressives first initiated mass political gatherings and bear most of the responsibility for stimulating this discord. But the conservative reaction is also wrong. If they were the responsible social mainstream they would react more maturely. Such discord will undeniably worsen the nation’s reputation and credibility. We should devote our time and energy to competing internationally, and an ideological struggle is never a help. We must make pragmatic judgements and use them as the norms of our society.