Chun’s strange sophistry

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Chun’s strange sophistry

Chun Jung-bae, former floor leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said in a post on a U.S. Congressional magazine’s Web site that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will lead to a mutual disaster. We are not only dumbfounded at his strange logic about the pact but also disappointed at his behavior as a political bigwig. As the U.S. Congress has at last agreed to ratify the trade deal after a long impasse, his act deserves a severe denunciation.

In his Web post, he appeals to U.S. politicians not to ratify the FTA, arguing that ratification of the pact will result in a trade deficit for the United States. Does that mean he is worried that Korea will have a trade surplus with the U.S. as a result of the deal? To put it simply, an FTA is basically a win-win game for involved parties, not a lose-lose game as Chun argues.

The fact that free trade pacts promote mutual benefits is an established fact among the global community. That’s why a myriad of countries rush to strike trade deals with their counterparts. Of course, each country engages in fierce negotiations over FTAs. But that’s because they try to secure even small gains. Domestic conflicts arise, but that’s because of a practical need to compensate for some expected damage to a particular industry as a result of the deal, not because the FTA is wrong.

The Korus FTA is finally on the threshold of ratification in both countries after having traveled a thorny five-year path from the Roh Moo-hyun administration to the Lee Myung-bak administration. We feel deeply ashamed that Chun, who served as the justice minister under the Roh administration, has even attempted to urge his counterparts not to ratify the pact now.

His claim - that a majority of Koreans are worried about the pact - is also groundless. At the start of the Lee administration, many people were opposed to the trade deal because of increasing worry about mad cow disease with U.S. beef imports. But that has changed. According to a survey conducted after the Korea-EU FTA was successfully ratified by both sides, an overwhelming majority of people said they support the Korus FTA. Another survey by the DP shows that 75 percent believe the Korus FTA will help boost our national interests.

The problem is the potential damage to the working class. But that should be dealt with by the National Assembly. Lawmakers from both parties should propose bills to the relevant committees and have meetings to minimize any adverse effects of the pact. Chun should raise his voice there, not with the U.S. Congress.
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