[VIEWPOINT]A new Incheon-style landing neededOn Sept. 16, 1950, the Korean army and the UN forces in Korea launched an all-out counterattack against the invading North Korean troops along the so-called Nakdong perimeter that ran along the Nakdong River. It was made possible because General Douglas MacArthur launched a successful landing operation at Incheon.
The success of the Incheon operation, which turned the tide of the war, owed much to General MacArthur’s superb imagination.
When everyone else was clinging to the prolonged military deadlock along the Nakdong River battlefront, MacArthur baffled the enemy by making a move no one could have predicted.
Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that MacArthur’s imagination turned the tide of the war.
Nowadays, we are repeating a war deadlocked in a different way.
Starting with the transfer of wartime control of South Korean troops from Washington, the appointment of the head of the Constitutional Court, the negotiations on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and the big stir created by the short supply of homes that can be rented for a big deposit, we are wasting our time with useless debates day after day.
Actually, the deadlocked Nakdong River frontline is right here, nowhere else.
Although we must move forward and overcome hardships, we are ruining not only the present, but also our future, because our legs are bound by what happened in the past and our minds have become prisoners of useless causes and ideologies.
We can no longer afford to waste our national potential like this. This is the time when we need an Incheon landing of today based on a new imagination.
We need it because we have to win a war that will decide whether, five or 10 years from now, we can get the means and ways of earning our living.
Noble causes and ideologies do not provide us the means that we need for our people to make a living.
Instead of wasting time boasting about our present affluence, we have to look for a way to feed our people well and accommodate better welfare in the future, by using our imagination.
Businessmen, politicians, scholars and journalists should all come forward. Otherwise, there is no guarantee for the future. We could easily be reduced to poverty again.
In our society, many housemaids come from China and the Philippines. After 10 years, however, there is no guarantee that our descendents will not do the same jobs if the tide of the times changes.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Filipino economy was much better than that of South Korea. But it crashed in a short period of time.
In the 1950s, the living standard of the northeastern provinces of China was far superior to that of both South and North Korea, which were devastated by war.
But going through the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the living standard of Korean-Chinese in three of the northeastern provinces of China stagnated, then crashed. And during the same period, life in the North was better than that in South Korea.
However, South Korea became wealthy enough to be free from chronic poverty due to the Saemaul Movement, or the New Community Movement, and the strong leadership of President Park Chung Hee. On the basis of the economic development achieved under President Park, South Korea has secured relative economic superiority since the 1990s.
In contrast, North Koreans suffered from hunger and miserable living standards. The Korean-Chinese in the northeastern provinces of China rushed into South Korea to earn money even by working in humble jobs, such as in manual labor.
But South Korea’s economic stockpile is fast draining away. Moreover, there are no new industries in sight to lead Korea’s future growth.
South Korea now manages its economy only by relying on such existing industries as semiconductors, automobiles and shipbuilding.
We cannot keep going in this state of “zero visibility” in which we cannot foresee our future five years or 10 years from now.
We can no longer waste our time clinging to the deadlocked Nakdong River battlefront, sticking to past and futile ideologies and causes.
We must bravely launch “the Incheon landing of today” that will turn the tide of the war on securing our economic future by mobilizing the imaginations and capabilities of the whole people.
For this job, we need a leader like General MacArthur. The essence of MacArthur’s leadership does not lie in his colorful career, but in his insight and vision based on his unique imagination.
The people are looking for new leadership to lead us through the hardships ahead, with wide perspectives and an imaginative vision, free from outdated and stubborn political ideologies.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong