[EDITORIALS]Discretion, pleasePresident Roh Moo-hyun visited the Seoul Korean-Chinese Church last week. A Korean-Chinese woman was shown on television crying and lamenting, making one feel deep pity. If there is any possible way, we must embrace these people as our brothers and sisters. But to feel pity for these people and seek humanitarian measures to help them is one thing; whether it was desirable for the president to visit the church is a different matter. Strictly speaking, these people are illegal aliens who have broken the law. For the president to step forward publicly and tell the Korean-Chinese that he sympathized with their needs was not right. If the president truly wants to help these people, he should try to change the law. The popular sentiment that one can get what one wants through collective action and loud outbursts is a consequence of this kind of symbolism. The president’s words could also provoke the Chinese government, which is prickly about ethnic minorities in China.
Of course the president also frankly warned the Korean-Chinese at the church not to expect much from his visit, but the church announced afterwards that it had reached an agreement with the government. The Ministry of Justice, although denying the church’s claim, has included Korean-Chinese illegal aliens in the list of those to be reissued Korean citizenship.
President Roh wants to show tolerance for different opinions, but it is worrisome that he gives the impression that he cares less about the police and soldiers who have been wounded trying to maintain public order or protecting the lives of our people. Such a discrepancy was also apparent in the president’s expression of sympathy for the Korean-born German sociologist Song Du-yul, who was indicted on charges of aiding North Korea, and in Mr. Roh’s silence on the matter of Jeon Yong-il, a South Korean prisoner of war who was arrested by the Chinese police after he escaped from North Korea. Our country cannot be united if the president himself gives the impression that law-breaking is more mainstream than being law-abiding. We ask Mr. Roh to act with a little more discretion.