[Viewpoint]The ultimate political sacrifice

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[Viewpoint]The ultimate political sacrifice

There is a famous photograph of First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez of the U.S. Marine Corps taken on Sept. 15, 1950 during the Incheon Landing. He was the 3rd platoon commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He led his platoon through a shower of North Korean machine gun bullets and arrived at the beach.
As he raised himself to throw a hand grenade at the enemy, he was shot in the shoulder and chest. The hand grenade dropped and rolled toward his men. With his bleeding right arm, he grasped the grenade and covered it with his own body. The grenade exploded and killed him. The U.S. Congress awarded Lopez the Medal of Honor, and the U.S. Marine Corps treasures his photograph in memory of his sacrifice.
Lopez was a tall, handsome man who was a promising basketball player in high school. The 25-year-old soldier was not even married. He came to a foreign country and met a heroic death. He was in the forefront of the war’s most fearsome battle. His platoon went past his dead body and ran under a rain of shells. As a result of the bravery and sacrifice demonstrated by Lopez and his soldiers, the Incheon Landing was a great success.
The United Democratic Party is standing at a crossroads, and it needs Lopez’s kind of leadership. It once seemed as if it would perish without ever shining, but the revolutionary nominations by Park Jae-seung have breathed energy into the party allowing it to fight again.
Now, the party needs a trigger that can turn the energy into fighting spirit, and the job is left to its commanders, not the soldiers. The current commanders of the Democratic Party are Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu and former presidential candidate Chung Dong-young. Both have received great favors from the party. The time has come for them to pay back the kindness they received with sacrifice.
Sohn Hak-kyu was first elected to serve as a National Assemblyman representing Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi, in the April 1993 by-election. Then-President Kim Young-sam was wildly popular at the time due to his reform-minded politics. Sohn received great favors from the president and the party. He was re-elected in 1996 and 2000, and in 2002, he became the governor of Gyeonggi Province. Before becoming governor, he also served as the Minister of Health and Welfare. The United Democratic Party has made him the party chairman even when he migrated from the Grand National Party.
Now, it is Sohn’s turn to contribute to the party.
Television news anchor Chung Dong-young became a lawmaker after winning the election in Deokjin District of Jeonju, North Jeolla, in April 1996. He also enjoyed a landslide victory in 2000. In 2004, he was appointed as a proportional representative, but he had to give up his seat after he made a derogatory comment about senior citizens. He was forced to step down, but the party still put him forward as a presidential candidate representing the most reliable constituency in Korea. This time, Chung should make a voluntary sacrifice.
Both Sohn and Chung have wanted to become president of Korea.
If you are to become a president, you need to win the hearts of the citizens. If a general wants to win the hearts of soldiers, he needs to abandon his own safety.
That’s what former President Roh Moo-hyun did. From Bongha Village in South Gyeongsang, Roh must be watching Sohn and Chung making up their minds. Both of them are good candidates to run in the Jongno District in Seoul. Districts like Gwangmyeong in Gyeonggi or Dongjak-2 in Seoul do not suit desperate and determined commanders. Lawmaker Park Jin of the Grand National Party is waiting in Jongno, holding his sword to defend the district.
Considering opinion poll results, it will take a lot of courage on the parts of Sohn and Chung to run against Park. However, they should still challenge him, if only for the sake of suffering a grand defeat. They should run in Jongno and tell voters why we need a healthy opposition party and why voters should revive the Unified Democratic Party.
King Leonidas of Sparta led 300 warriors and fought in the forefront of a battle. His enemy, King Xerxes of Persia, commanded a great army of several hundred thousand soldiers by wielding a whip from a high palanquin. The army of hundreds of thousands could not defeat 300. What kind of leaders do Sohn and Chung hope to become?

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Jin
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