[EDITORIALS]A new life, starting at age 60The surge of emotion we feel as we greet the sixtieth anniversary of our independence is truly intense. In Korean culture, a 60th birthday signifies the beginning of a second, new life. Our country has now reached a point where we must change and be reborn. What is our vision, our goal? Our vision is to achieve prosperity and peace across the Korean Peninsula. Our goal is to build a society where those who want a job can find one and no one stays poor just because his or her parents were poor, where equal opportunity is guaranteed and human rights are never oppressed. Our vision is of the two Koreas ending their mutual hostility and working together to achieve peaceful progress.
Since our independence in 1945 and the founding of our republic in 1948, we’ve been through a lot of turmoil. There has hardly been a year that has passed without turmoil, yet we have made historic progress. No other country that gained independence after World War II has become such an advanced economy nor achieved the level of democracy that we have. We laid the foundation for our country during the rule of President Syngman Rhee and escaped poverty under the leadership of President Park Chung Hee. The Roh Tae-woo administration achieved the first peaceful political transition, and the launch of the Kim Young-sam administration meant an end to 32 years of military government. The election of President Kim Dae-jung proved that a peaceful transfer of power was now the norm. Looking back, we have achieved the role that history required of us; this is how our country became what it is today.
If there was light, there were also shadows. Under the dictators, there were abuses of power such as torturing civilians, framing innocent people as communists and trampling human rights. Had there not been people who risked their lives to fight such injustices, we would not be enjoying the freedom we have today. The April 19 Student Revolution, the May 18 Gwangju Democracy Movement and the June 10 Struggle were all incidents in which blood was shed for democracy. However, even 13 years after these same people who fought bravely for democracy took power, we have yet to solve the conflict between the so-called industrialization forces and the democratization forces.
It is right to reveal the crimes committed by those in power and the historical truths kept hidden. However, this delving into the past should not be used for partisan purposes nor to promote class struggle. If this were to happen, we would become mired in the past, unable to advance.
The competition between the two Koreas shows that the South made the right choice. We are far more advanced economically, politically and in matters of human rights. We are to become an advanced country; that is why we can’t cling to the past. China is catching up fast and Japan’s 10-year recession is about to end. Under these circumstances, our attention should be focused on advancing our economy.