[OUTLOOK]No time for political disruptionElection time seems to be approaching again. The governing party and the opposition party are being disrupted. One side is fiercely declaring, “You should go. I can’t get out.” And the other side is exclaiming, “Those over 60 should go. People from the Chun Doo Hwan administration and the Roh Tae-woo administration should leave.” People who just six months ago called each other “brother” or “comrade” have become enemies. The minds of politicians are hard to read. If this fight is politics, ordinary people might not be able to join in because they would be too ashamed. That might be the reason politicians are said to have thick hides.
If I were in the old mainstream faction of the Millennium Democratic Party, loyal to former President Kim Dae-jung, I would quit politics without objection. Think it over. What did they do for this country as they held power for the last five years? The economy is in a dire situation. And the inter-Korean summit, which was called an historic achievement, was, after all, found to have been acquired by money, the aftermath of which tore South Korean politics apart. People close to Mr. Kim accepted tens of billions of won and now are in prison. If the old faction of the party has a conscience it might be reasonable for them to leave, saying, “We feel responsibility as members of the same political power and quit politics now.”
If I were a Grand National Party member from the Chun and Roh administrations, I would leave politics without regret. If the members are thinking people, they should ponder why the last presidential election turned out as it did. Their involvement with the Chun and Roh administrations can be understood as the reality of that time, but they should have quit politics when the military regimes were over. That would have been the behavior of a sensible man. But they remain in politics even now. That is why young Korean men think of the party in terms of the Chun and Roh administrations, which is the main reason it was defeated in last year’s presidential election. The reason that conservatism in South Korea is under attack right now might stem from the view that these members are the mainstream of conservatism.
If I were from the old mainstream faction of the ruling party, I would feel like saying the following: “Who helped elect the president? But you are saying that we should leave? You, those elected for the first or second time, who made you as you are? We went to prison because we had to create political funds and get you elected, but you are boasting that you are clean reform forces. Think of the time you begged me for a National Assembly membership. Don’t you fear God?” I would resent the new faction of the party in this manner.
If I were a Grand National from the Chun and Roh Tae-woo administrations, I would feel dumbfounded: “How can young ones in our party ask me to resign because I am old? How dare they do that? If only our party had won the presidential election, I would hold a good position now. When they wanted a nomination for the Assembly, they sought me out asking to make connections for them. But now they are asking me to leave since my presence will bring fewer votes? The Blue House is creating a disturbance with a change in generations or ‘codes,’ so younger people in our party are doing the same thing.” I could not help lamenting in this way.
It is strange how history repeats itself. Whenever a regime changes, centering on the president, it mobilizes flowery words like “reform” and “people,” and creates a new party or changes the mainstream factions of the party. As seen in the case of the current governing party, the old Kim Dae-jung faction is isolated, or, as in the Grand National Party, the older factions are forced to leave, labeled as forces of the Chun and Roh administrations. Since new parties are constantly being created, they do not have a history. Parties begin again every time, so how can heritage and tradition be created? Today’s power and the present trends become the standard for everything.
One thing that does recur is that such developments are self-serving and are not related to people at all. After the new regime was established, only a “war with the media” is being remembered, but now there is fighting among politicians over creating a new party. If politicians and parties really recognize their responsibility, how can they discuss a new party or something similar in the country’s present situation? People are not interested in whether a party is the Millennium Democratic Party or a new party ― they just ask a party to fulfill its responsibility when it holds power.
Is South Korea in its current situation because a new party does not exist? A new party does not bring new times. There are no more people who can be deceived. The fight is for position among politicians. After all, election is not a choice for the best but for the second-best. We should wait and see what kind of party the governing party and opposition party would create.
* The writer is chief editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk