The scent of ambitionChung Un-chan, the former Seoul National University president, is attracting attention in political circles where it is considered highly likely that he will run for president in December.
In particular, the Uri Party, Uri Party defectors and the Democratic Party are watching Mr. Chung’s moves with keen interest, because they do not have attractive presidential contenders. They are trying hard to attract Mr. Chung in the hope he will join their parties and win public attention for their presidential primaries. Mr. Chung appears to be well aware of their machinations, because he has yet to give them a clear answer.
Still, we have to say that Mr. Chung’s behavior is inappropriate, given that he is still a professor at Seoul National University.
Mr. Chung is acting like a man who is half-politician and half-professor. Since he resigned from the presidency of Seoul National University in July of last year, Mr. Chung has been the object of constant wooing from political parties.
However, he has ducked the question of whether he will become active in politics, by offering equivocations like “I am mulling over several possibilities.” Yesterday, Mr. Chung said in a lecture, “I will not make a political decision before the end of this semester.”
It appears that Mr. Chung intends to maintain an ambivalent stance for months to come. It’s true that his decision is not an easy one to make. The moment he declares that he will enter the presidential race the course of his life will be changed radically. However, it is not right for him to hide behind ambiguity. By doing so Mr. Chung is playing games with the public, his students and his university. Of course, Mr. Chung might offer the excuse that his activities so far have had nothing to do with politics. However, Mr. Chung has frequently shown up at special lectures or events in the Chungcheong provinces and he has also stressed that he is a Chungcheong native. Those moves have the scent of politics about them and the public knows the smell of ambition.
We are not criticizing Mr. Chung for being political. We just want him to draw a clear line, by bidding farewell to the university. That is the proper behavior for a person who was once a university president. This is also necessary for students and employees of Seoul National University.
To see a man torn between politics and academia is uncomfortable for everyone. As the Minotaur discovered, being half one thing and half another tends to end in tragedy.