[OUTLOOK]President’s fall from graceWith one month left before this year is over, I think back on the major incidents and scandals that influenced Korea and Koreans this year. I do not intend to simply look back on the past, but want to try to figure out what caused or led to what we have today. If we find the reasons and causes, we can make a better future.
The most major incident this year was the fall of President Roh Moo-hyun. There is nothing that gives a bigger shock to a society than the political fall of its president. This is equivalent to the fall of Korea or of Koreans. That is why Koreans have bitter, sad feelings in their hearts.
But let’s think about this. There is no need to feel frustrated. A president falls politically every now and then in a democratic society. Particularly in Korea, the fall of a president occurs every five years, even more accurately than an economic cycle.
And even if the representative of the country falls, if the protector of the Constitution falls, if the commander in chief falls, if a person whom constituents loved the most falls, there is still a strong backup to support the system. We have that power. We can find confidence and hope in that fact.
In politics, our country’s leaders are replaced regularly through elections. In the economy, natural traits of markets are respected. In our culture, people can express their feelings and thoughts and have animated debate. These things back up the system firmly. If these things are not at work in a society, it is hopeless. North Korea is such a society, for instance. In South Korea, this system works well. South Korea’s society is like bamboo; bamboo is flexible and yet strong thanks to its joints. Our system is like a sponge that absorbs shocks, even the shock caused by the fall of the country’s leader.
Mr. Roh does not need to feel overly frustrated either. He should know that he has benefited the most from this system. He has a lot of things to appreciate. Although he was not from the mainstream, but was from the underprivileged class, he became the leader of the country. That was thanks to our fair election system, in which candidates are evaluated only by votes.
Not everything Mr. Roh has done is wrong. It was a very good thing to reduce the authority of some government bodies, such as the National Intelligence Service and the prosecution. It was a monumental achievement that he allowed a thorough investigation on funds collected and used for campaigns by himself and his rival for the presidency, Lee Hoi-chang. By this, Mr. Roh cut the deep-rooted and corruptive bond between politicians and businessmen.
Mr. Roh has 14 months to go before his tenure ends. When it comes to resignation, he will also benefit from our system because nobody will dare to hurry him to step down before his term ends. The Constitution stipulates that a president serves for five years to the date. He can end his tenure when the time comes.
Is anybody out there who still gets frustrated whenever the president repeats his fall? If you do, you should practice finding hope in any situation. The fall of the president does not mean the fall of our system. The fall of the incumbent president leads to expectations and wishes for the next president. If such expectations and wishes are strong enough, people’s thoughts will converge as one, just as when they supported our national football team in unison during the FIFA World Cup.
Public opinion will converge with the upcoming presidential election next year. People are making standards when voting for a candidate. They seem to agree that they will rule out an arrogant person who is full of abstract thoughts when choosing the right person.
The fall of President Roh started because of his ideology and arrogance. He was good at criticizing but was incompetent in terms of handling reality. Even when disaster hit the country, he was still outside the reality. Talking about the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, or the story about Daewongun, a regent of the Joseon dynasty, he brought on a lengthy and abstract review on current issues.
Words and logic that do not grasp reality are nothing but empty. The people became fed up with the ideologies and abstract thoughts of the president, who is stuck in his own world. His emphasis on ideology led to his arrogance. He does not acknowledge any ideologies other than his own and fails to see what really happens. As this person was in power, his arrogance had destructive power.
I hope that the presidential hopefuls will bear in mind that constituents will rule out a candidate who repeats abstract words and is self-righteous. They will choose the most practical and realistic person. They have changed this much in the past five years. It can be called the Roh Moo-hyun effect.
*The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chun Young-gi