[EDITORIALS] A presidential bowPresident Roh Moo-hyun visited former president Kim Dae-jung at his residence on Saturday. The two presidents and first ladies talked for more than two hours and lunched together. The Blue House explained that the visit was a congratulatory one, to mark the opening of the exhibition hall at the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library. However, a visit by an incumbent president to the residence of a former president is unprecedented in Korean history. The special meeting between the two figures is not expected to have a positive effect, however.
The meeting gives the impression of the current president bowing his head to his predecessor. Mr. Roh is solely responsible for the occurrence of such a situation, but it is distasteful to see a former president influencing real-world politics by “mobilizing” a certain region.
Blue House spokesman Yoon Tai-young explained that the two exchanged opinions on the election of Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary general, rising real estate prices and North Korea’s nuclear program.
He insisted that they did not discuss a single word regarding “political realignment.” But how does he expect the people to believe that politics did not come up on the table?
Even if there were no discussions about politics, the fact that the two met has enough political meaning itself. It’s because the two are the main axis of the “political realignment” that is being discussed in the governing party.
As a result, the meeting itself can affect politics and they must have calculated that fact before getting together. Having the former and current presidents leaning on winning the next presidential election is a step backward for Korean politics.
Whatever changes in direction that the ruling party takes, it is not desirable for the two presidents to be in the driver’s seat.
Mr. Roh is responsible for managing the next presidential elections so that they turn out to be fair. He must also do his best in governmental affairs and be judged the results. Mr. Roh has been receiving failing grades in various surveys regarding government affairs. If he tries to continue his policies by bringing the presidential election to the ruling party again, does he think the people will accept it?
Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Kim is a symbol of regional politics. The current president must set himself free from such shackles. But it makes us uneasy seeing Mr. Kim trying to extend his influence to “political realignment.”