[Outlook]Korea needs a long-term visionI am often confused about whether I am watching a fight or reading the news when I open a freshly delivered morning paper. Antagonism and conflicts have spread since the inauguration of the current administration. The president, the media, the ruling and opposition parties, even the people in the street ― they not only refuse to recognize or understand one another, but they also openly antagonize one another.
Day after day, the citizens, as well as the media, are interested in finding fault in inappropriate remarks made by the president or hasty policies coming from the administration. They irresponsibly criticize and oppose to a degree that borders on derision.
Not to be forgotten is the noisy, unlimited competition among potential candidates for the 2007 presidential race.
There must be some understandable reasons for the situation in which the country finds itself. Surely someone must be responsible for this state of affairs.
Yet regardless of whom is to blame, what we have to do at this moment is to face our current situation and ponder what is needed to establish a peaceful and prosperous society. That we squander our priceless time generating criticism and distrust is a great cause for worry.
The other day Kofi A. Annan went back to his country, Ghana, after a decade of service as the secretary-general of the United Nations. The joyous crowd welcoming his return and many of Ghana’s most important people wanted him to run for president. Annan replied that he would instead work to improve the agricultural standard of Africa with other international activists and African leaders.
Inasmuch as India and China do not suffer starvation any more, Annan told them he wanted to contribute to solving agricultural problems so it could be put to an end in Africa as well. He put aside the temptation of the political limelight and dedicated his life to solving the problems of his country and of Africa.
Last week the World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland. About 2,300 political and business leaders, intellectuals and journalists from various countries gathered to discuss issues, from global warming and climate change to the theme of this year’s forum, “Shaping the global agenda: the shifting power equation.”
However, Korea did not sponsor any of the over 300 seminars at the annual meeting.
What is more, there was no Korean participant in the audience at the session “China, Japan and Korea ― Managing a New Power Center” on Jan. 26, although the session discussed managing nationalist conflicts between Koreaand its neighbors.
The above two cases remind us of many things. Leaders, particularly political leaders, should think about what they can and ought to do for the country and the people, rather than about how to achieve and maintain political power.
We should be discussing our visions for the next century, half century, or decade of Korean politics, economy, culture and security. The policies to realize those visions should also be planned and implemented.
Korea possesses a talented and industrialized workforce, although it suffers from a shortage of natural resources. We need to form strategies that amplify the merits of our manpower. Citizens are paying taxes and doing their military obligations, Korea’s leaders should do their parts too.
Political parties seize power for the short term to realize their policy goals, and politicians strive to use their positions to the maximum during their terms. But if everyone remains true to that objective, the future is not promising for parties, politics and the state.
For the sake of the future of this country, the wisdom for foresight and profound thinking are more urgently needed than ever before.
*The writer is a professor of public law at Sungkyunkwan University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Hyung-sung