[Viewpoint]The president loses his way

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[Viewpoint]The president loses his way

Here’s an updated version of “The president and the rice cooker” joke that spread on the Internet in 2005.

First President Syngman Rhee borrowed money from the United States and bought a rice cooker, but he did not have rice to go in it.

Late President Park Chung Hee cultivated the soil, harvested grain and cooked rice, but he did not get a chance to taste the rice.

Late President Choi Kyu-hah attempted to eat the rice, but he burned his hand when he opened the kettle.

Former President Chun Doo-hwan called his family and cleared the pot.

Former President Roh Tae-woo realized that only scorched rice was left on the bottom of the pot, so he poured in water and finished the leftovers.

Former President Kim Young-sam dug into the bottom, but when a hole appeared, he sold the pot.

Former President Kim Dae-jung started empty-handed, but he bought an electric cooker from the United States and charged it on a credit card.

Former President Roh Moo-hyun plugged the 110-volt U.S.-made rice cooker into a 220-volt outlet and the rice cooker broke. And then complained that the “code” did not match.

How about President Lee Myung-bak?

He was well known for cooking great rice, so citizens thought he would be able to fix the electric cooker. However, he put the pot on a wood fire and is fanning the fire.

The electric cooker is the latest model, but the president is cooking rice the old fashioned way. It might have been funny if it had been on a comedy show, but citizens are frustrated by the reality.

If Lee Myung-bak were a stock, he would be a new stock that has only been on the market for 100 days. He still has enough time to bounce back.

But how can he recover his depreciated value?

Let’s consult with Warren Buffett, the legendary investor known as the “Oracle of Omaha.” When he chooses a stock, he prioritizes market share and brand power. A company with a big market share and solid brand power is not easily influenced by the market.

In a recession, smaller companies will fall behind, and the market leader will become even stronger. In the last few years, the semiconductor market has been very slow, but Samsung Electronics enjoyed handsome profits.

However, Lee Myung-bak’s image is going backwards.

In the presidential election last year, he received 48.7 percent of the vote, and he mistook it as his market share. When he should have merged with rivals, he let a faction leave his party, and it was only natural that his market share plummeted.

With the controversy over U.S. beef imports, Lee’s market share fell to 10 percent.

While he has now brought back those who left, consumers have already grown distant. If he misunderstands the number of National Assembly seats as market share, citizens will light torches, not just candles, in Gwanghwamun.

The Lee Myung-bak stock is not so strong in brand power either.

It is not clear what the company does.

The Park Chung Hee administration’s brand image was, “Let’s be prosperous.” The Chun Doo-hwan administration advocated “single-digit inflation.” Kim Dae-jung administration’s brand was “reform and sunshine” and the Roh Moo-hyun administration pursued “balanced development.”

In Particular, the Roh Moo-hyun administration enjoyed popularity by integrating products such as capital relocation, innovation cities and comprehensive real estate taxes into the brand of balanced development.

The capital relocation was frustrated by the Constitutional Court, but the regime was not shaken thanks to the strong brand.

However, I am not sure what Lee Myung-bak’s brand is. He presented the Grand Canal project and the 747 program of achieving 7 percent growth and $40,000 per-capita income to become the seventh-largest economy in the world, but these are products, not a brand.

The administration has lost its direction as the Grand Canal project and 7 percent growth seem unattainable. It prioritized growth and boosted the exchange rate, but as the international oil price surged, it is promoting an opposite policy.

The government confuses citizens with its inconsistency. While it professes to be pragmatic, it seems to be simply soulless.

In the stock market, a trick might work for a while, but it does not last. If he wants to boost his stock price, the only answer is a direct approach.

The Lee Myung-bak administration needs to present its brand to the citizens and accept the judgment of the market. It cannot hide behind the curtain of pragmatism forever.

*The writer is a deputy business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Jung Kyung-min
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