[OUTLOOK]Haste makes wasteThis summer was one of unbearable heat. But nature always keeps the seasons in order. The cool breezes of morning and evening already announce the end of summer.
Nevertheless Korean politicians continue to fight, letting out hot steam like immature children.
It seems like just yesterday that we were trying to impeach a president who had been elected less than a year earlier, and now the president who escaped impeachment is saying that he will transfer the administrative capital even though the majority of Koreans are against the idea.
In addition to that, the president is proposing to clarify the truth about pro-Japanese activities at the National Assembly in full scale, so that those who collaborated with the Japanese during the colonial era can be sorted out and brought to some sort of reckoning.
The agenda of the administration does not end there. It is proposing that we should repeal the National Security Law. No wonder the country is loud and dizzy. It rather seems that the goal of the present administration is to stir up confusion and complications.
But these problems do not need to be solved right away; they are not problems that would threaten the existence of the nation. They can be seen as problems of great importance that need to be looked at from a long-term or philosophical point of view, but are not concrete and clearly presented as reality.
On the other hand, there are problems that need to be dealt with as soon as possible. They indeed could bring about huge, concrete problems if not solved right away. The North Korean nuclear problem and the problems of our economy are in this category.
The North Korean nuclear problem will become harder to solve as time passes, and the results could become more and more tragic. If the problem remains unsolved even after the U.S. presidential election, the United States will most certainly consider a coercive policy against North Korea no matter who becomes president. If this is the case, the Korean government will end up in a very difficult situation. Therefore, we have to discard a passive policy stance that says we may take certain reactions following the circumstances given to us. Instead we have to develop a policy and logic in which we take the lead and shape the circumstances from the beginning.
We need to keep in mind that if we do not make the choice ourselves, we will end up in a situation of enjoying our passive attitude, simply letting time pass in a peace framed within the six-way talks.
The economy is a large part of our national security. If the economy becomes weak, national security also becomes weak. If the economy becomes strong, our national security becomes strong in tandem. The success of a country is judged by the standards of the country’s economy.
Thankfully our country is widely known and acknowledged as an economically successful country. The problem is that if we lose our development momentum of the past and fail to regain our high development power, we will be left with the fate of remaining an underdeveloped country for a substantial period of time.
Therefore, what we need to do now is recover the dynamics of our economic growth. When the fireworks of economic growth all burn out and just cold ashes are left, it is very hard to light the fire of hot and high advancement once again. That is why we need to put all our strength into keeping the fire of economic growth alive more than anything else, before we lose more time.
An ambassador of an advanced country in Seoul asked why Korea had to transfer its capital now, at a time when huge funds are needed to revive the Korean economy. After all, the transfer is a job that needs a lot of financial resources. Another ambassador said that Korea seemed to be putting a lot of effort into clearing up history, but asked what we were doing for the future.
We need to think about whether the tasks that we are engaged in now are ones that need to be done right away. We also need to think about whether we are taking care, in haste, of things that could be put aside for the moment, while putting aside things that need urgent care.
* The writer, a former ambassador to the United States, is a professor emeritus at Korea University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Kyung-won