[Viewpoint] Park Won-soon: Eagle or giraffe?A leader must confront the challenges of the times. A leader who has the eyes of an eagle can fly to the top of the cliff, get a perspective of the entire nation and solve challenges. However, a leader with the eyes of a giraffe may only see part of the picture. No matter how much a giraffe stretches his neck, he cannot see beyond the field. The fate of the community depends on whether its leader is an eagle or a giraffe.
In the 1970s, pro-democracy activists demanded an end to Park Chung Hee’s dictatorial rule. They insisted that freedom of speech and assembly as well as labor and welfare rights were important. On the surface, their arguments were beautiful and idealistic. However, the reality was different. If Park Chung Hee had abandoned his development-oriented dictatorship, the miracles of the 1970s may not have been possible. Would Korea have grown into a major trader if wages were increased as the labor movement demanded? If freedom of speech and assembly was guaranteed and demonstrations and protests swept the country, would Kim Il Sung and the communists in the South have left the country alone? In hindsight, Park Chung Hee was an eagle, and most of the activists were giraffes.
Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo seized power after a military rebellion and violent suppression of the Gwangju democratization movement. Throughout their presidencies, they committed serious corruption and unlawful activities.
However, when the Fifth Republic was nearing its end in 1987, they listened to the voices of the period, calling for direct presidential elections and democracy. They surrendered to the citizens, but at the same time, they responded to the calls of the times.
They calculated that Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung would split up in the end, and the regions where they were based would be divided. They were right. At least when it came to the 1987 presidential election, Chun and Roh had eagle eyes while the two Kims were giraffes.
Before becoming president, Roh Moo-hyun was a baby eagle. He fought regional antagonism and worked for society’s weak. He was a warm-hearted eagle. But after becoming president, he turned into a giraffe. He shook the interests and stability of the whole by engaging in a fight for a part. He responded naively to the North’s threats and neglected the Korea-U.S. alliance. He divided society and focused on progressives and the left rather than on the whole picture for the nation. The giraffe threw himself off the cliff in the end.
Seoul is the symbol and the core of the Republic of Korea. It is not a mere regional government. Seoul is a state by itself, with a population of 10 million. The central government agencies, the Korea-U.S. joint military command and foreign legations are all located in Seoul. When downtown Seoul is taken over by protestors, the Blue House is confronted by violent demonstrators in no time. The police are trampled, and the government offices and media companies are attacked. Such violence happened just three years ago.
The leader of Seoul must have the eyes of an eagle. He should establish law and order and defend the security of the community. He has to take care of welfare and growth. It is important to feed the children, provide child care and offer care for the elderly. At the same time, he should pursue redevelopment, nurture industries and create jobs. When cruise liners operate under Yanghwa Bridge, we can earn dollars and create jobs.
Does civic activist Park Won-soon have the eyes of an eagle? An eagle has an extensive perspective on history and embraces the successes of the community. However, Park Won-soon criticizes the development-driven dictatorships of the South and stays silent on the greed, exploitation and provocation of the North. He praised pro-Pyongyang activists such as Gwak Dong-ui and Song Du-yul as “democratization leaders operating abroad.” He calls for the abolishment of the National Security Law, which defends the system of liberal democracy. After the Yeonpyeong Island attack, Park opposed the firing exercises of our military for fear they could provoke the North.
Park Won-soon often ignores the law. He has engaged in unlawful counter-campaigns to prevent certain candidates from being nominated or elected. Civic groups should be independent, but he has received major donations from large conglomerates. Then he gave the money to many progressive and leftist groups. And a considerable number of them were involved in anti-American, pro-Pyongyang activities. Just because the existing political parties are appalling does not make an independent candidate an eagle. One can only be called an eagle when he defends the community’s values and pursues welfare and growth reasonably. It will be an eagle, not a giraffe, who saves the community.
*The writer is an editorial writer at the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Kim Jin