[Viewpoint]Acting ex-presidential

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[Viewpoint]Acting ex-presidential

There was a wedding on a golf course in a rural area on Saturday. The father of the groom is the owner of the golf course and the biggest supporter, in both material terms and of the mind, of former President Roh Moo-hyun. The bride’s father worked as Roh’s chief of staff. The former president officiated at the ceremony and around 100 important Roh administration officials who worked at the Blue House, government ministries and at the National Assembly were present.

The course was covered with green grass gorgeous under the early autumn sun. The sky was blue and a red light plane circled over the wedding ceremony and dropped confetti. The bride and groom were happy and people congratulated them, as at any other wedding. It’s only natural for people to wish the bride and groom happiness.

But was this all right? The special wedding that day posed many questions for me.

I think it was not a private event that concerned only the two households. Considering the political background of the in-laws and the social status of the officiator and the guests gathered, the occasion was a party for the Roh Moo-hyun administration officials. Only half a year has passed since they lost power, in miserable election defeats, owing to a loss of confidence in them and misrule.

Is it appropriate for former President Roh and his chums to celebrate now? People are in agony over rumors of a looming economic crisis on top of the current bad economy. Chuseok is around the corner, but the joy of harvest seems like someone else’s story. Bundles of gifts people carry to their hometown are lighter than ever.

Is it all right for former administration officials to have a celebration under such circumstances?

Former President Roh was a head of state and is an elder statesman now. He should speak and behave discreetly in consideration of the nation. And he should act with prudence when he is invited to officiate at a wedding or make a condolence call.

It was said that he officiated last weekend because it was the wedding of his closest friends’ children. If their relationship is that close, however, couldn’t they push the ceremony toward something more befitting a former president?

Although Roh left office half a year ago, about 2,000 to 3,000 people still visit his private residence in Bongha Village everyday. This is probably because of the working-class image of Roh Moo-hyun.

Although some of the former administration officials are the subject of corruption rumors, there is no evidence of corruption directly linked to Roh. Therefore, people from all over the country visit Bongha Village to see him. No matter how badly he ruled the country, many still remember him as the common peoples’ president who only graduated from high school.

Should the first wedding officiated by this former president be such a luxurious one?

In our society, there are many poor young people who do not have the money to hold a humble wedding. How great it would be if all those young people were gathered in Bongha Village to have their weddings officiated by the former president.

The father of the groom is said to have become a friend of Roh when they were in Busan, long before Roh became a lawmaker in 1998.

Their backgrounds as high school graduates were the same, and was probably a factor in cementing their friendship. He has been a financial sponsor of Roh for a long time. He helped the “386 generation” under Roh while he was in power. He gave them jobs and supported their livelihoods.

He used to invite ambassadors of small countries and some ruling party National Assembly representatives to his golf course. In other words, he was not just a sponsor of the president, but of the administration.

Well then, is he a public figure or a private individual? Technically he is a private individual but, considering his position in the administration and they way he conducted himself, there are not many figures as public as he.

If that is true, shouldn’t he have held his son’s wedding in a manner more befitting a public figure? The economy has been in difficulty since the days of the Roh administration, and many are wandering around with heavy hearts, while those who can, enjoy the luxury of having an airplane dropping colored paper to celebrate their children’s wedding.

The father of the bride was the chief of staff under Roh for 20 months from August 2005. During that time, the approval rating of the president fell, politics became confusing and the economy worsened. Countless numbers of brides who could not afford a wedding postponed their ceremony and many are still waiting. We can understand a father who wants to send off his daughter with a luxurious wedding ceremony. However, didn’t he work for the common people’s president for 20 months?

Perhaps, there may be people who would say there is nothing wrong with flying a plane with one’s own money at one’s own golf course, in this age of capitalism.

In that case, why do we need balanced development and egalitarian education in a free competition society?

Where on that golf course were the common people and the reforms the Roh administration advocated so loudly?

Was the wedding march for Roh only, and the occasion to commemorate his administration?

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

by Kim Jin
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