Borrowed timeThe ministries of unification and gender equality, which were to close, will remain open. Plans to close the Unification Ministry were “up for negotiation” from the beginning because of strong opposition from the United Democratic Party, which holds a majority in the National Assembly. The survival of the Gender Equality Ministry most likely resulted because both the new government and the United Democratic Party are highly conscious of female voters during the national elections in April. The decision not to close the two ministries is more a result of political negotiations than reason. Both ministries should remember that.
The vision for the nation’s future that people harbor is one that is democratic, where the right to freedom, human rights and happiness are guaranteed. The Unification Ministry exists precisely to work to this end with North Korea. It is a ministry that requires sophisticated strategies. It at times must reason with North Korea through dialogue and cooperation. At other times, it must use sticks.
However, the Unification Ministry has entirely avoided this tactic for the last 10 years. It was tied to a single mindset ― “If we give aid to North Korea, it will change in accordance with our wishes.”
Of course, given the differences in power between South and North and the fact that we are one people, it is an indispensable obligation for us to aid the North. However, antagonism between North and South Korea still exists. This means that even when we provide aid, we should consider it carefully.
Nonetheless, the incumbent government would not budge. It provided cash to North Korea when it had just tested nuclear weapons. It even made concessions on the Northern Limit Line. It closed its eyes to protecting South Korea’s interests and focused only on helping the North. The decisive factor in this was that the Unification Ministry is an independent ministry. That is why the closure of the ministry gained support.
The same is true of the Gender Equality Ministry. It pursued many stupid policies. The special law forbidding human trafficking that the ministry ambitiously pursued ended up in smoke.
There were unbelievable initiatives such as rewards for companies that promised not to indulge in sexual entertainment at year-end parties and granted paternity leave. With out much thought, it initiated these failed policies for the sake of appearing to help women.
Both ministries should rectify their wrongdoings. If not, in five years, they will once again be entangled in disputes to close them.