[FOUNTAIN]Sun will set, regardless“Beating the outside” is an old political tactic of mobilizing reinforcements from outside the political arena when you are at a disadvantage. Populism and fascism survived through this method. It destroys the rules but rationalizes itself by insisting it pursues democracy. It is what Professor Roh Jae-bong once called, “Kim Dae-jung’s expert political technique of beating the outside.”
Syngman Rhee was the real master of the art of beating the outside. When his opponents dominated the National Assembly, he proposed a bill for amending the Constitution to allow a direct presidential election. He thought that his chance of re-election was slim if the National Assembly elected the president. However, the bill was voted down, 143 to 19. The assemblymen wanted a parliamentary system, where they could serve as ministers. The “in-the-National Assembly” Liberal Party, which was backing President Rhee, was no exception. When President Rhee was cornered, he beat the outside. He criticized the National Assembly as reactionaries who represented the privileged class. Lee Beom-seok of the Joseon National Youth Corp led the outside-the-National Assembly Liberal Party and began threatening the Liberal Party lawmakers. The political henchmen groups staged demonstrations day after day, demanding to dissolve the National Assembly and summon the assembly members. Exploiting the manipulated public sentiment, martial law was proclaimed. A bus that had some 50 assemblymen onboard was lifted by a crane and dragged by the military police. The police and the military police chased and captured the fleeing assemblymen and confined them to constitute a quorum. This was how the notorious “selected amendment bill” was passed.
A more typical beating of the outside was the Cultural Revolution in China. Mao Zedong mobilized the Red Guards. He destroyed values and order and purged Liu Shaoqi and his followers.
President Roh Moo-hyun is also an irregular politician who is fond of the outside. He talks to citizens and civil servants on the Internet and enjoys politics through letters. His fan club, “Nosamo,” is more energetic than the incumbent lawmakers. As he went on a tour of foreign nations, he sent a lengthy 31-page letter to the party members. In the letter, he condemned the Uri Party leaders and stirred up the Party members to rise against them. Uri Party Chairman Kim Geun-tae will step down next week. Just as Mr. Roh asked in the letter, the party will call a general convention. Despite all the efforts, however, no one can stop the setting sun from going down.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin-kook