[FOUNTAIN]Citizens tired of Blue House reform agendaAccording to a well-known prophecy during the Russian presidential campaign in February 1996, the next occupant of the Kremlin would have been a bald headed. From the foundation of the Soviet Union to former president Boris Yeltsin, every other Russian leader has been bald.
Therefore, the successor of Yeltsin, who was not bald, would be bald. After all, Lenin ― bald ― was succeeded by Stalin, who was not bald, and then Khrushchev, bald and Brezhnev, not bald, followed. Gorbachev, the predecessor of Yeltsin, was also bald.
As if to prove it right once again, Yeltsin was succeeded by Vladimir Putin, who is rather bald. Regardless of its credibility, the Russian media interpreted the prophecy as a call for leadership change.
Choi Jin, former chief of the Blue House’s Bureau of Overseas Information, came up with “leadership wave theory” to explain the citizens’ demand for change through the presidents. The theory is that plus and minus leaderships alternate like waves in short and long runs.
The terms might sound as if suggesting good versus bad, but Choi defined “plus leadership” as the type that is active and unreserved yet somewhat unstable and risky. In contrast, “minus leadership” refers to the stable and deliberate yet indecisive and stubborn.
If the theory is applied to the U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon was a plus followed by Jimmy Carter, a minus. Ronald Reagan was a plus, and was succeeded by George H.W. Bush, a minus. Bill Clinton was a plus.
In Korea, Park Chung-hee was a minus, and his successor Chun Doo-hwan was a plus. Roh Tae-woo was a minus, while Kim Young-sam was a plus, Kim Dae-jung was a minus and Roh Moo-hyun a plus.
The theory also explains how the short-term public would yearn for gentle leadership when the current leader is too radical, while it would call for strong leadership when the current president is too soft. It might be a universal phenomenon that citizens pressed with one type of leadership demand the other type.
In that sense, the recent change in focus by the Blue House and the ruling party from an aggressive reform agenda to economic revival means the leaders know citizens are tired of the hardline reform agenda.
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a political news deputy editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.