The thrill of the newAn incumbent president and a former president have made excessive interventions in the presidential election campaign. Last week both President Roh Moo-hyun and former President Kim Dae-jung underlined the importance of uniting the ruling circle. The election draws near but the ruling circle has not produced any serious presidential hopefuls. It is a pity that it has no strong contenders.
Presidents are politicians at the same time, whether incumbent or former. Some can say there is no problem with politicians making political remarks. That would be accepted as natural in the United States, for instance. But things are different in Korea. Whenever there is a presidential election, political parties are created and disappear. That’s why, when Roh and Kim were in the opposition party, they worked hard to prevent the president from intervening in elections and demanded that he work as a neutral chief executive instead.
President Roh demanded a political allegiance to party, instead of regionalism. Based on that cause, he judged and evaluated every single presidential aspirant and even made some of the strong contenders give up the race. In an event to commemorate the Gwangju democracy uprising, the president expressed his concern that politicians seem to have gone back in time and are once more depending on regional interests. But, one day later, he said he would not go against the core values of the organization where he truly belongs. It is hard to believe that the president relied on core values that were created by a bunch of politicians based upon principles that can be changed overnight. President Roh talked about the organization where he belongs, even though he has already left his party. Maybe his departure was just a trick to justify his intervention in the election.
Former President Kim said that the ruling party’s tragedy is its separation from the Millennium Democratic Party. He kept emphasizing the restoration of its former base, which means the union of South and North Jeolla with the Chungcheong provinces. Recently, he even said that the ruling circle must present a single candidate if they can’t create a single party. He wants North Korean issues, such a South/North summit, to have an impact on the election. These seem to be his desperate attempts to avoid the loss of his political influence. When any former president intervenes in an election, it suggests he does not want to lose power, but new wine must be poured into new wineskins.