[Viewpoint] A way to end the Park-Lee dilemma
A bee flew into the room and decided it wasn’t for him. So he tried to get out, only to bump into the closed window. Ouch!
The Venerable Sinchan of the Tang Dynasty said, “It’s truly foolish to knock on the window instead of using the open door. The bee can try poking into the window for a hundred years, but can never hope it will be able to leave the room.”
The ancient monk might have been talking about today’s Grand National Party. It has been looking for an exit since the presidential primary, but it’s still very lost. The primary ended over a year and a half ago, but the ruling party politicians seem unable to move on. They are divided into pro-Park and pro-Lee factions, and there seems to be no end to the contest. The citizens are not interested; they do not know who’s pro-Lee and who’s pro-Park. But they want things done and have grown frustrated waiting.
In the endless quarrel between the man from Mars and the woman from Venus, more people favor the latter. People have been disappointed by the winner and feel sympathetic to the loser. But I want to point out the faults of the popular woman from Venus. After all, you cannot start a dustup with only one side involved.
It is a mistake for Park Geun-hye to turn down the appointment of a notable pro-Park figure to the position of floor leader. While the appointment may run counter to a certain principle, that principle is not firm enough to override the need to stabilize state affairs.
The public clearly demands change as the dramatic results of the recent by-elections show. But Park’s rejection of the offer can only be seen as her intention to stay out of the dirty business of running things. The appointment was a friendly gesture, and her loyalist was enthusiastic about the prospect.
She is right about President Lee - he was the first to break trust. However, Park cannot expect to win his trust by not recognizing him as the president elected by the voters and, instead, treating him as a mere political rival within their party. She should be reminded of the principle that once the primary is over, the loser should cooperate with the winner.
When the winner was cornered during the candlelight vigils last summer, Park did not even offer a helping hand.
It makes no sense to call it a disconnect between the mainstream and the fringe. It’s not. Rather, it’s a contest between the power of today and the power of tomorrow. And the future power could be stronger than the present. The woman is arguably the most promising presidential hopeful for the next term. When she recently departed for a trip, many lawmakers came to see her off at the airport. Some politicians joke that they side with Lee during the day and with Park at night.
The man thinks that such a powerful woman has no intention to help him, so he is reluctant to have her as a partner. The moment he acknowledges her influence, he would become a lame duck. Though pro-Park politicians are not interfering with Lee’s administration, the woman is clearly aiming at his sore spot.
It is about time to look for an exit. Many think that the two should meet and reach a grand reconciliation. While this would be desirable, it’s also impossible. They have not been speaking the same language, and so, they will not be able suddenly to understand each other. They have already met several times, but whenever they have gotten together, the gap between them has grown bigger.
The fastest remedy is to face reality. They should not hide their differences and discord and be frank about their factions. They are already talking through the mouths of their loyalists, and have been disguising their true intentions. So even if the two sides agree on an issue, different voices would subvert any agreement.
The woman should demand to share power according to her rightful claim, while the man needs to acknowledge reality and offer what she deserves.
To begin with, it is impossible for the ruling party, with its 172 legislative seats, to have but one voice. The party is more likely to be more successful and efficient when it acknowledges its factions and their varying opinions. The Japanese Liberal Democratic Party cannot break away from factionalism because it is the only realistic option to continue as a large party without dividing it. It might not be the most desirable result, but it’s the reality.
When you can’t find the door, you should open a window. In short, a man can do better than a bee.
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Hoon-beom