[VIEWPOINT]Losing the house and the wild rabbits

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[VIEWPOINT]Losing the house and the wild rabbits

“While you are trying to catch a wild rabbit you can lose the house rabbit,” is a famous Korean saying.
The Uri Party is struggling hard to catch a house rabbit it has lost.
The house rabbit is the supporters in the Honam region, or Jeolla provinces, who played the decisive role in electing President Roh Moo-hyun in the 2002 presidential election.
According to a survey by Korea Gallup, residents of the Seoul metropolitan area who hail from the Honam region favor the Grand National Party candidates for the upcoming local elections.
In the last presidential election, however, some 85.5 percent of them supported President Roh.
Far from catching a wild rabbit in the mountain, the ruling Uri Party is losing its own turf here and there. So, it is understandable the party is trying to catch the one that just slipped out of its hands.
It was President Roh himself who kicked out the house rabbit. When he established the Uri Party, he deserted the Democratic Party.
His calculation was that if he confined himself to a regionally based political party, he would be tied to a minority faction forever.
Regionalism is a specter that hovers about Korean politics tenaciously.
The will to fight it head-on is something that should be encouraged. In that sense, it is a pity that the party is looking for its house rabbit, regional support, again.
It is even frustrating to hear former senior presidential secretary for civic affairs, Moon Jae-in, saying, “As the president hails from Busan, it is a Busan administration.”
Is the bitter memory ― the memory of creating a mythology of “Idiot Roh Moo-hyun” by repeatedly failing in the elections in Busan where Mr. Roh ran for a seat in the National Assembly on the minor Democratic Party’s ticket that had no regional backing in Busan -- forgotten?
If the Uri Party is tempted to catch the house rabbit, they can never catch a mountain rabbit.
The creation of new history always follows sacrifices. If the ancient Chinese king of the Yue Kingdom did not endure the disgrace of working as a groom of his enemy, how could he wipe away the disgrace and revenge?
If Shih Huang Ti of the Chin Dynasty didn’t deny his blood ties with his biological father, he could not have unified China.
President Roh’s decision to desert the support of the Honam region was no less significant than the above historical examples. However, his decision has not yet succeeded. Mr. Roh is a born fighter. By turning a minority into his enemy, he got the backing of the majority. His strategy was effective in the elections.
As time goes by, however, the minority tends to become the majority. While he indulged in political games, the people’s standard of living deteriorated. Securing the legitimacy of the government by launching an attack on the weak points of previous administrations was also commonly done in ancient China.
Emperor Xuan Zong of the Dang Dynasty freed 3,000 concubines, set fire to treasures in the warehouse of the royal palace and sent Buddhist monks back home in the name of three measures of reform. The three were the source of resentment for the people against the royal throne before him. But Xuan Zong’s three reforms turned out later to be fraudulent.
The largest and most extravagant concubines in history came during the rein of Emperor Xuan Zong.
Emperor Xiao Zong of the Sung Dynasty gained the support of the people by reinstating an aide who insisted on fighting against the Jin Dynasty, but he later consulted with another courtier who advised him to be friendly with the Jin Dynasty.
During the same Sung Dynasty era, two political factions under the name of the Old Law and the New Law fought fiercely to gain the confidence of successive emperors. But for the emperors who made use of them politically, both New and Old made no difference.
Reform should not be abused as such. One cannot use the tactic of dividing the people into factions for long. The tactic will make the people feel sick and tired eventually. And the sick and tired people will turn a cold shoulder to the ruler.
The presidential term of five years is not long enough to turn history upside down and destroy it.
Where on Earth is there a government that creates noise by threatening the people after making real estate prices skyrocket?
Where on Earth is there a government that tries to pass the buck to others while the competitiveness of the nation slows down and expenses for private education undermine the people’s standard of living?
How could they explain the opinion polls that say only 39 percent of those who supported the president in the last presidential election still support him?
President Roh tries to catch a mountain rabbit with the arrow of politics.
He once proposed a grand coalition. He also has a lingering attachment to political restructuring and constitutional revision.
With the merger of three parties in 1990, we have already witnessed that regionalism cannot be overcome by regionalism itself.
There was and is a limit to man-made political restructurings.
The right way is to gain the trust of the people by demonstrating a real ability to manage state affairs.
Even if a party loses, the election comes back in five years.
If a party wants to catch a wild rabbit, it should first establish legitimacy from procedural matters.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ibo.


by Kim Jin-Kook
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