[EDITORIALS]Goodbye, boss JPKim Jong-pil, chairman of the United Liberal Democrats, has retired from politics after 43 years. He stepped down as the party’s chairman. Who knows where the political winds will blow in the future, but it seems highly unlikely that he will be coming back.
Making his final exit, he looked lonely. His personal ambition, to record an unprecedented 10th win at the National Assembly, fell through. The United Liberal Democrats did not earn one proportional seat, and it has shrunk to a mini-party with only four elected seats to its name. Its goal of adopting a parliamentary form of government is all but faded. Mr. Kim’s departure was a desolate one, for he was the leader of a party that was small but important because it could sway the final outcome of issues. He was a political kingpin about whom many have commented: “Where there is JP (Kim Jong-pil), there is power.”
Mr. Kim’s departure is not only about the sentiments of a political veteran; it has a significant meaning in Korean politics. He was the last of the “three Kims,” or three charismatic political bosses with regional strongholds. The other two, the former presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, have already retired. Thus, Kim Jong-pil’s exit spells a complete end of the “three Kims” era and the opening of a new one. We are reminded once again of the common truth that the world may seem like it is changing in leaps and bounds, but in reality, it changes slowly.
The “Three Kims” era had both good and bad. They brought about industrialization and democratization. The downside to their era is that they practiced boss politics, regional hegemony and money politics. When they reigned, an election saw the nation’s money supply increase. Political aspirants, hoping to land a party nomination in a regional stronghold of the political boss, would come loaded with money. The general wisdom during their era was that one had to only put up a party flag in a party stronghold to become a National Assemblyman.
Voters want the new Assembly to be different. They want to upgrade Korean politics to the next highest level. We offer condolences to Mr. Kim, whose career was highlighted both by glory and by shame, and we ask the Assembly to strive to open a new political era.