[FOUNTAIN]Fair weather or not, friends can be helpfulRepresentative Choo Mi-ae comes from a poor family. Her father was a launderer, but she was never ashamed of her background. In fact, poverty was the nutrition that made her a political heavyweight today. When she ran for the National Assembly in 1996 for the first time, she said that the daughter of a launderer would wash the corruption out of politics, just as Margaret Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter, handled the problems of Great Britain.
Ms. Choo said that in her childhood, her mother used to serve rice when relatives on her father’s side visited and noodles when relatives on her mother’s side came to visit. As her family became more destitute, she said, the paternal relatives stopped visiting but her mother’s family continued to visit and provide encouragement. She said those who stand by your side in difficult times are real family, and those who stand by the party in the hardest times are the true members.
At age 46, Ms. Choo finds herself in yet another predicament. This time, her family is the Millennium Democratic Party, whose situation is not just on the wane but nearly bankrupt.
She must be thinking what the Millennium Democratic Party is really about. After numberless privations, it produced two presidents and created a new mainstream power. With the “Sunshine Policy” and the inter-Korean summit meeting, it tried to create winds of change on the Korean Peninsula. It is the party that swept half the districts in the capital region and all in the southwest of the country and secured a solid political foundation. Now the pioneering spirit and the abundant assets are nowhere to be found.
Ms. Choo might be thinking that her true friend and family would be former President Kim Dae-jung. If she has Mr. Kim’s support, the voters in the Jeolla region will follow her. Two days ago, the Millennium Democratic Party held a ceremony to launch its legislative election campaign at Imjingak, the symbol of the country’s division and hopes for unification. She might be sending a message to Mr. Kim, whose grand goal was the reconciliation with the North.
Park Geun-hye, the chairman of the Grand National Party, said recently that she has lost her parents and has nothing more to lose or gain. Ms. Choo is determined and bold, but where are her friends now that she needs them?
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.