[Outlook]A failure of judgement

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[Outlook]A failure of judgement


OUTLOOK

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The expression “the judgment of Solomon” stems from the Old Testament story of a wise judge who uses guile to discover the truth.

Here in Korea, the hot, steamy weather has arrived. People are sweltering in this year’s first heat wave, as temperatures climb to 35 degrees Celsius in some areas. Riversides and valleys are crowded with families who can’t sleep because of the stifling humidity and high temperatures during the tropical nights. However, people will endure the record-breaking heat, and look forward to the change in seasons that will bring us some relief.

Yet, there seems to be no time limit on the terrible confusion and turmoil in Korea. Chaos still runs rampant over U.S. beef imports. The incumbent president is having a big fight with the previous president, arguing over the leak of confidential information and access to presidential records.

A tourist at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea was shot to death by a North Korean soldier.

Japan’s Education Ministry announced a plan to define Dokdo as disputed territory in a teaching guidebook.

What we are concerned about is the fact that Solomon’s wisdom can no longer be seen amid this turmoil.

The president underscored the importance of implementing pragmatism-oriented policies once again a few days ago in response to the question “What is pragmatism?” at a Blue House meeting with invited members from the Seoul Forum for International Affairs. It was a gathering of senior experts in the field of diplomacy and security.

He explained, “It represents that the struggle over political ideologies is over on the Korean Peninsula. I will pledge to give priority to national interests in implementing policies.”

But for the most part, his words weren’t published. President Lee Myung-bak took the reins of government with “pragmatism” as his slogan. If what a president just five months in office says is no longer considered newsworthy, it is because his words seem unreliable.

Korean society is overflowing with half truths at the moment. Some newspapers report about Munwha Broadcasting Corporation’s “PD Diary.” Others are occupied with YTN stories. Teenagers gathered in the streets believing that the risk of catching mad cow disease was not to be taken lightly. Reckless politicians called reporters to the table of the Blue House, saying that U.S. beef is safe. Farmers raising Korean hanwoo beef cattle feel frustrated to witness such a depressing scene.

Interactive problem-solving models of conflict resolution are not working at all in Korea. Our society is swamped with sophisticated ideas and narrow-minded politicians who are trying to gain small political advantages and benefits.

The conflict resolution mechanism is not out of order. But no one is coming up with new, innovative ideas, and there is a marked lack of willingness to implement such ideas.

The greatest burden lies with the “pragmatic” government. Korean voters chose politicians under the flag of pragmatism in last year’s presidential election. Why did they do so?

They expected that Lee would strive to bridge the gap between the different intentions of different people and deal with the issue of deep-rooted conflicts in Korean society, mollifying the public ire.

They expected Lee to realize what was meant by the lines in the 2005 Korean movie “Welcome To Dongmakgol,” that “A leader’s first and foremost task is to feed his people well.”

However, he failed to do so. Lee and his administration were at a loss with how to cope with small, petty problems, and are taking a compromising attitude to win the favor of half of the people in an enormous power struggle driven by conflict. The effort to build a neutral zone and call people together disappeared completely.

There are leftist and rightist groups in any society, at any time. However, there is something that other countries have, but that we lack.

What is noteworthy is that social conflicts between leftist and rightist groups try to compete with the best of intentions, with a view to promoting national interests. It is a self-evident truth that some produce airplanes but others develop parachutes.

Nowadays, the president does not often meet people. His words are reported to the public less and less.

I would like to call upon him to do his best to satisfy the people’s demands once more, even if it makes us feel frustrated again.

It is my sincere hope that he will roll up his sleeves and speak honestly to the people, saying, “Give me one more chance,” not that he will continue to separate the public into different groups.

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

by Park Seung-hee


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