[EDITORIALS]A president transformedPresident Roh Moo-hyun recently emphasized the importance of Korea becoming a top-class country. On April 21, President Roh said to reporters at the Blue House, “Although there are many side effects and problems in the process to become the best, now I realize that we need to become top-class.” He added, “I suggest that the country, the Blue House, and the media try to become world-class.”
It is fortunate that the president acknowledged and emphasized the mainstream of globalization and the importance of enhancing competitiveness.
So far, President Roh's policies have emphasized egalitarianism and equitable wealth-sharing. He weighed distribution more than growth and showed a vague prejudice against the rich.
He pursued an equality-oriented education system rather than training the smart and talented to become more competitive on the international stage. In other social policies, the directions were the same. We do not know what caused him to change his mind, but we hope his remarks will soon be turned into new policy directions.
“In the global market, second-best is not good enough,” said Mr. Roh, in remarks stressing the importance of signing a free trade agreement with the United States. This is more than right. We can't escape from the trend of globalization, no matter how hard we try. If we refuse to open our doors, like North Korea has been doing, we will end up starving our citizens.
Most of our manufacturing industries have entered the upper reaches of competitiveness in the world. But our service sectors, such as education, finance, medical services and legal service, are not ready to compete in the international market. As the president mentioned, politics and the media are also far below the best in their class.
But if the Blue House focuses its energy and efforts on bolstering competitiveness in all these sectors, the media will certainly provide its assistance.
Because President Roh is seeking a free trade agreement with the United States, many of his supporters are turning away from him, saying he has betrayed his principles. Some interest groups who have supported him in the past are likely to protest against the agreement. This is a huge burden for the president.
But if he pursues short-term political interests, he will lose everything. We hope that he becomes a leader who has a vision of the future of the nation and assumes the responsibility for its history.