[EDITORIALS]Society’s divisions

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[EDITORIALS]Society’s divisions

Many things in the Blue House’s campaign to reduce social polarization are difficult to understand. A series of essays on its Internet site defined the Republic of Korea as “a casino economy where winners take all,” and divided the people into a “successful 20 percent” and a “hopeless 80 percent.” The Blue House also said, “The strong have endless greed and are ruthless,” inciting people to believe that the “haves” are responsible for social strife.
“If this situation continues, the Korean Peninsula may become three Koreas ― North Korea and two South Koreas separated by the wealth gap,” said Lee Byung-wan, the presidential chief of staff, at a meeting with Korean ambassadors on Wednesday.
No one can deny that ending social polarization is a critical task. Who can object to building a social safety net? But we see problems in the methods.
Social polarization is not an issue that can be resolved by splitting the people and encouraging conflicts. The resolution cannot be to take away the wealth of the “successful 20 percent” and distribute it among the other 80 percent. But the Roh Moo-hyun administration is stirring up a radical confrontation. We wonder if that was prompted by a desire to pass the blame for its economic failures to others, or had a political motive to get votes from the 80 percent in the May 31 elections.
Experts say that the Roh administration is itself responsible for the social polarization. Cho Dong-keun, a Myongji University professor, said at a forum that the government has caused low growth and social polarization because of its political obsession, unbalanced ideology and dim awareness of the nation’s problems. Economists also pointed out that the government has no potential to overcome these troubles. “The government and society are short in their capabilities to objectively understand the complex economic problems and come up with alternative policies,” said Chung Un-chan, Seoul National University president. The advice is worth listening to.
But the Roh administration is trying to pass the buck, saying that some media and politicians have exaggerated the possibility of an economic crisis and want to drive the government into a corner. Mr. Lee, the Blue House chief of staff, told the press that the government and the press should fulfill their own responsibilities and roles. We agree, but the government’s job is not splitting the people and starting a fight. The government’s job is to create an environment where the people can feel safe making a living.
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