[FORUM]Vision to bring the nation togetherHyundai Home Shopping Network, a cable home shopping channel, offered emigration packages to Canada Thursday night. The 90-minute show attracted 2,935 callers who signed up for further consultation; 92 percent of the callers were in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Hyundai initially offered the package on Aug. 28, the first time that such products have been sold on a cable shopping channel. During the first show, 985 Koreans signed up.
These young and middle-aged Koreans must have signed up for the package not just because they are disappointed by Korea’s current situation but also because they see no hope for the future. They are skeptical about the present and future for themselves and their families in Korea. They must have decided that starting a new life in a foreign land, however hard it might be, was a better option than staying here.
The reality is hard and painful. The soaring youth unemployment rate has discouraged college seniors from graduating. They try to postpone the time when they must face the poor job market, but even a delay cannot guarantee better conditions. Housing prices in the Gangnam district of Seoul are rising day by day. A series of scandals, each worthy of a novel, continues to confuse the public even in the Roh Moo-hyun administration. It feels like eons ago that the entire nation rejoiced in its miraculous success in the 2002 World Cup games. What happened to that dynamic country?
Let’s begin with the ruling party. What has it been doing this year after it succeeded in remaining in power for two consecutive administrations? It is common sense that the Millennium Democratic Party needs to put its best efforts into devising, proposing and implementing fresh policies as it renews its position as a ruling party for another five years. For a new administration, the first days are a period of energy, motivation and creativity filled with hope and laughter. A promising beginning is the essential element for social stability by giving hope and vision to the citizens.
Has anyone seen the ruling party giving hope in the last half year? The governing party has been divided and factions are fighting with each other, insisting on their own versions of reform. The friction has led to physical battles and verbal feuds and will only end with catastrophic disruption. The citizens were wrong to expect the nation to function properly at a time like this.
Ostensibly due to the lack of support from the ruling party, Mr. Roh and his administration were not successful in eliciting vision and hope from the citizens either. The president, who is expected to create national unity, appears to be looking elsewhere or even promoting division. Ironically, Mr. Roh’s indifference accentuates the collapse of the ruling party, which has been divided since he was nominated as a presidential candidate.
Mr. Roh has always been eager to pay back his supporters. His thoughtful consideration of those who shared the pleasures and pains of life is impressive. On the morning of his departure on a state visit, Mr. Roh wrote a letter to console a friend in trouble. He personally called one of his associates several times after he was temporarily released from custody in an alleged corruption scandal. His warmhearted gestures must have moved his supporters. Before his inauguration, he visited a newspaper known for its pro-ruling party stance. He has shown special attention and affection to pro-ruling party Internet media and television stations. Mr. Roh has been appointing his associates and friends to key positions, saying he would feel most comfortable working with people he knows by heart.
If that made a respectable president, no one would criticize his conduct. Unfortunately, the blunders of past administrations have shown that favoritism leads to corruption and alienation. We do not want to see the likes of Park Jie-won and Kwon Roh-kap. Alienation only sharpens the blades of confrontation.
The president need not complain about the criticism and opposition he believes is undeserved. Show leadership beyond meticulous reaction to each critic. Propose and realize a vision that can bring the nation together.
It is the president’s primary duty to create a nation where the young and middle-aged can have dreams for the future even when the present is harsh. Let the president’s dream be the dream of all citizens.
* The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Sioux Lee