[EDITORIALS]Applause for a GNP proposalRepresentative Chung Moon-hun of the Grand National Party presented a bill that recognizes North Korea as an independent state. It is fresh to see the unyielding, conservative party produce such a progressive bill.
The party will have many difficulties to officially adopt the bill, as it has to go through strong resistance and criticism from a more conservative faction. Also, it will have to review whether the bill is in conflict with the Constitution and the National Security Law.
We, however, believe such a fresh idea of the opposition party demonstrates excellence in politics.
That the Grand National Party needs to change is a strong message delivered from the 2002 presidential and 2004 legislative elections.
But what the party has done so far was only to exploit the blunders of the governing Uri Party and President Roh Moo-hyun.
If the party continues to do so, it will lose every big election, even though it may win some small ones. That will be a misfortune of not only the leading opposition party but also the people who voted for the party.
The public, which has been disenchanted and upset about the current administration, does not yet consider the Grand National Party as a good alternative political choice. The party has been labeled as a “forgotten party,” and the “idiotic and reactionary.”
But the bill shows that the party can change. The Uri version of an inter-Korean relations bill defines North Korea as the “North Korean authority.” But Mr. Chung’s bill is more progressive than the Uri bill and describes North Korea as the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” and South Korea as the “Republic of Korea before unification.”
It is a bill that would recognize North Korea as a state for the first time, in terms of domestic law. The bill also prepares a basis to allow the Korean public and officials to travel to North Korea.
We believe that the conservative party can become appealing only when it endeavors to lead Korea into the future, not just stick to old practices.
The bill, furthermore, has a device that minimizes the public unease about national security. It recognizes Pyeongyang as a partner and at the same time says it is a force threatening the security of South Korea. It also requires support for North Korea that exceeds a certain amount of money to be approved by the National Assembly.
If the Grand National Party approaches other issues in politics as it did for this bill, there will be a possibility of agreement with the Uri Party concerning the controversial National Security Law issue. The two parties could agree on a legal device that will prevent Pyeongyang’s militant unification strategies from being allowed in South Korea.
As a conservative faction of the governing Uri Party checks the hawkish reformists inside, the Grand National Party requires moderate conservatives to balance its strong conservatives. That will allow rational dialogue and negotiation between the two parties.
The two parties should seek what will be beneficial for the country and find a point of contact and agreement.