A politician makes a threatSouth Koreans achieved democracy in 1987, 26 years into modernization, by a direct vote to elect their president. A decade later, they passed another democratic milestone by bringing to power the liberal opposition from the Jeolla region, which replaced the conservatives from the Gyeongsang region. Since then, changes in power no longer surprised us. Politics and our civil society have both matured.
Some things change when an administration with a different ideology takes power, and some things don’t. Policies on North Korea, welfare, taxes and infrastructure development are such areas where continuity is required. Constitutional order and a basic value system must remain intact to ensure the sustainability of a state.
The ratified Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and planned construction of a naval base on Jeju Island are both associated with our security alliance with our biggest ally. The late President Roh Moo-hyun pursued both of those policies because of their significance to the national interest. But the opposition now, which was the ruling party under Roh, vows to overthrow both of those policies if they take power, undermining the idea of a smooth transfer.
Members from the Democratic United Party are acting beyond reason and with the arrogant supposition that they will win this year’s elections. Chung Dong-young, an adviser to the DUP, bluntly told the admiral in charge of the Jeju base project that the opposition will win a majority in the legislature in the April general election and become the governing power after the presidential election in December. “If you are the commander, make a decision,” Chung was quoted as saying to the admiral, pressuring him to stop the construction. “We will hold you responsible.”
Chung served as minister of unification and chairman of the National Security Council under Roh. He also was leader of the ruling party and ran in the 2007 presidential race. He should be well aware of the importance of upholding key national policies. He should also know that a military officer has to follow orders.
It is not the first time we have witnessed his arrogance. During a hearing on Hanjin Heavy Industries’ labor dispute last August, he threatened Hanjin Chairman Cho Nam-ho by saying, “The world will change after the election in the spring.” Chung’s comments are dangerous to his party and to the state. For now, we want to forget that he once was a candidate for president of this land.