[EDITORIALS]Mind your words, Mr. Roh

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[EDITORIALS]Mind your words, Mr. Roh

President Roh Moo-hyun will be delivering a celebratory address for Liberation Day on Aug. 15 amid much domestic and international turmoil. On past occasions, we have commented on the president’s addresses after he has given them. But this time, we would like to give our comments beforehand.
This is because we feel that all issues, such as North Korea’s missile tests, the controversy over transfer of wartime military control, the uncertain future of the U.S.-Korea alliance and the tension over Korea-Japan relations, foreshadow tumultuous times for this country.
We ask the president to consider this situation in all its seriousness and be judicious in preparing a balanced speech reflecting the importance of history, international politics and alliances.
Because of the historical importance that Aug. 15 holds for our people, the president’s Liberation Day speech is considered next in importance only to an inaugural speech. President Roh has given a Liberation Day address three times so far, and all three times, the speeches were politically risky at best.
In his 2003 speech, he lamented that Korea didn’t have independent military control, and that as a sovereign power we should have the autonomous ability to defend our country. Three years ago, he had already started the controversy.
In 2004, he described Korea’s modern history as having been one of “faction and strife” and of “violations and vested rights” by the government. In the same speech, he proposed a special commission to uncover and set right the wrongdoings of the past.
He didn’t mention a single word about Korea’s economic development and modernization, which had amazed the whole world, and instead spoke only of the dictatorships and human rights violations, again aggravating old rifts in society.
Last year the president proposed legislation that would deal with human rights violations that were committed through abuses of government power. In the end, the proposal was deemed unrealistic and quickly faded into public oblivion.
A nationally important address such as the Liberation Day speech is a declaration both to the Korean people and the rest of the world of the way the president intends to lead this country.
It should not breed unnecessary controversy over the future of the country or inflame public opinion without any reason. Nor should it contain empty words.
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