[EDITORIALS]Look to the futurePresident Roh Moo-hyun yesterday urged the adoption of a special law that would make statutes of limitations flexible when it comes to crimes committed by the state. This appears to be the latest version of the political controversy over Korean history, which began early last year with the idea of investigating collaborators under Japanese rule. Inevitably, this path has led to consuming conflicts over which parts of history are to be examined, and what punishment or compensation there should be.
Everywhere one looks in political circles, people are talking only about the past. No vision of the future is to be found. Before we knew it, the possible targets of historical investigation had expanded from pro-Japanese collaboration to all of Korean history. The law establishing an investigation of collaboration was followed this year by “a fundamental law to settle the past for truth and reconciliation.”
The governing Uri Party originally said that its goal was reconciliation, not punishment. No one will be found to oppose the idea of discovering historical truths. As Mr. Roh himself said in yesterday’s commemoration speech, unearthing the truth about the past is necessary if we are to “reflect on the faults of our history and not to repeat them, and thereby to make clear what we need to look out for in the days to come.”
But now talk of discovering the truth has been moved to the back burner, and even the president is talking about punishment and compensation. We cannot understand where the determination to find the truth has gone. If this is about a brighter future, then finding the truth about the past is its own reward. Unless, of course, that ransacking of the past will lead to political vengeance, or the settling of old scores.
There is an abundance of things to be done in this country. A president should be able to draw a blueprint of the future and then present a vision, leading the country in the right direction. But since this administration began, there has been no talk of the future. Everything is about the past. We need to pose the question of whether, in those circumstances, a country is likely to muster the power to triumph in global competition. On the 60th anniversary of liberation, what we need to think about is not the past, but the future. It is for the future’s sake that the past should be reflected upon. The future should not be sacrificed for the sake of looking back.