[OUTLOOK]A duck who thinks he’s a dragonThe country is in such chaos that one wonders if the government still exists. The president has poured out a series of provocative and thoughtless remarks. People even worry if we will be in a state of anarchy for the last year of the president’s term.
President Roh Moo-hyun is a trouble-making champion. He is talented at picking fights and spreading conflict. Until the other day, the economy was his major concern. His sole topics of conversation were a scheme to build apartment units for half their usual price and next year’s economic forecasts. But such concerns then disappeared overnight and the entire country is in trouble because of the president’s ill-considered words.
As the country’s leader steps into a new mess every day it is hard to expect him to govern the country in a normal way. It is not an exaggeration to worry about Korea slipping into a state of anarchy.
Perhaps we should have learned by now to have few expectations of this president. This is not the first time his remarks have cause a scandal. As he frequently speaks in a disgraceful fashion, the people have become quite used to such words. There is no way to stop him from being upset, so the people should try to keep calm.
In the early part of his presidency Mr. Roh did seem to think seriously about his manner of speech. But eventually he seemed to decide not to change his way of speaking. This time, however, is not just about a slip of a tongue. Perhaps it might be best for him not to talk at all if he doesn’t want to cause trouble. Once he opens his mouth, he reveals his feelings too openly so it is no wonder his words often hurt others. In particular, in this recent speech, he wanted to vent his anger, so his words were even more hurtful, sending harmful ripples across society.
President Roh is the type who refuses to change his style, no matter what. Looking at what he has done so far, he will very likely stick to his own style when cornered, instead of changing. We should be prepared for many unfortunate incidents during his remaining term in office.
How should we then respond to his unrefined words? First of all, the people should become less sensitive to what he says. If the people over-react to his words, that will be an emotional waste for the country. It is not wise to drive him into a corner. If everybody thinks of him as a lame duck and pushes him too hard, a disastrous outcome may follow.
It will be a good idea to be less critical and compliment him instead, saying that there are many things he has done well. This is because a sense of security seems very important to this fragile man and without it he cannot control his words.
We should not forget that President Roh is bellicose and good at arguing. What good is there to pick an argument with a person who is good at it? Right after the president entered office, Lee Ki-myung, a supporter of his, said the president was born to be a fighter, that if he loses that characteristic, he is no longer Roh Moo-hyun, and that he became the president thanks to that trait. This description can help us understand the president.
One should remember that the president has become very knowledgeable in many sectors. He has always been eloquent and logical. As for intelligence technology, he has become an expert. As regards to policies, he has often stayed up all night to study them. It is understandable that he thinks he knows more than most. However, it is dangerous to be sure that one is the best and so seems to be the case with him.
That’s why ministers feel intimidated in front of the president. He is stubborn and hates losing more than anything. Now that he has become more knowledgeable, if a minister gives an inadequate response he or she will only be embarrassed in return. In particular, when the president likes to breathe fire like a dragon in official settings, who would dare to say things that the president might not like in private?
Although the presidential election is scheduled for next year and his lame duck status will become more serious, the president will likely cling to his governing style of “neo dictatorship.” We should try not to upset him. That’s the best we can do.
*The writer is the CEO of the JoongAng Ilbo News Magazine.
by Lee Chang-kyu