Divide and be conqueredThese days, the ruling circle is pathetic. No one presents any clear convictions or causes. No one has any realistic political power. They all flock together for their small interests. They visit former President Kim Dae-jung, the same person they criticized and left four years ago. Back then, they had a slogan calling for an end to regionalism. Today, they have thrown that slogan away.
Because of all of this, Kim has re-emerged as the most powerful person in the ruling circle. Every presidential hopeful in that circle visits Kim and bows to him. Kim met with Sohn Hak-kyu, former governor of Gyeonggi Province; Kim Hyuk-kyu, the former governor of South Gyeongsang Province; Chung Dong-young, former chairman of the Uri Party; and Kim Han-gill, chairman of the new party of moderate reformists. Today, he met with Park Sang-cheon, the head of the Democratic Party. Other people are waiting in line to meet Kim.
Kim’s remarks are getting more notice.
This year, he said a two-party system was desirable. He also demanded that the ruling circle produce a single presidential candidate. In April, he even suggested a concrete method, saying the presidential hopefuls in the ruling circle should form a coalition.
On Friday, when meeting with Chung, Kim said Chung must fight as if it were life or death.
There is no law to prevent Kim from conducting political activities. But it is conventional wisdom in Korean politics that former presidents keep out of the political arena. There is no need to list the damage that could occur from such meddling.
Kim promised in October of last year that he would not intervene at all in politics.
Even when meeting Chung on Friday, Kim said that, as a former president, it was bad for him to make comments and that he should know when to stop. But still he interferes in every detail. That is his obsession with power.
His advice is about the past. If one risks one’s life for power, it is impossible to carry out democracy. A senior politician like him must not encourage a hostile fight, but should work on dialogue and compromise. His strategy is based on regionalism, the path that Korean politicians must avoid.
The presidential hopefuls who cannot break away from the old regionalism paradigm set by Kim Dae-jung, Kim Young-sam and Kim Jong-pil are not qualified to become the leader of the country with the responsibility for the future of our nation.