It’s not dating, it’s marriageFor citizens, the president is a spouse and the presidential election is about finding the best partner. As long as you don’t get a divorce, you have to live together for five years. So a verification process is a must when you vote for a president.
When you are dating, you may be satisfied with a handsome and stylish partner. But if you want to get married, you need to consider financial stability, family background, personality and responsibility. Especially, you should also check out the people the candidate associates with.
A good boyfriend does not necessarily make a great husband. The same goes for political leaders. A popular politician is not necessarily good presidential material. First-class candidates should pass the marriage verification.
Former representative Park Chan-jong may be the most well-known case that failed the test.
Five-time representative Park ran for president in 1992. He was running as the New Politics Reform Party candidate, but he was virtually an independent. Kim Young-sam of the Democratic Liberal Party, Kim Dae-jung of the Democratic Party and Chung Ju-yung of the Unification People Party had solid funding and party support.
In contrast, Park hardly had any financial and organizational support. Park managed his own election campaign. Donning his signature trench coat, he went canvassing for votes on the street.
He finished in fourth place, earning 6.4 percent of the votes. However, Park left a deep impression on citizens. He was remembered as a clean political leader with conviction. Thanks to the image, he appeared in a commercial for milk. He said, “I would like to make the world as pure as this milk,” in the homogenized milk commercial.
In fact, homogenization is a milk-processing technique of breaking down fat to prevent separation and has nothing to do with being pure. However, his clean-cut image made for a successful advertising campaign.
At any rate, he was known as a pure politician, and the voters were attracted to him. The next presidential election was in 1997. Among the New Korea Party’s presidential hopefuls, Park, then the advisor of the ruling party, was ranked the favorite in the opinion poll, leading the competitive pool of candidates, including Lee Hoi-chang, Lee Han-dong, Choi Hyung-wu and Kim Deok-ryong.
On New Year’s Day, his residence in Bangbae-dong was overflowing with guests. But in a few months, the boom was all over. He failed the eligibility test for marriage.
Five years before, he was virtually an independent. But this time, he had to go through the party primary, and the voters reviewed his personal relationships and his leadership in the organization.
They wanted to see how Park would survive in the giant party. And he did not pass the test, failing to get over the limitation of being on his own.
When he could not get support from the party, he made sudden moves, criticizing the primary rules and raising doubts about election financing. But his claims were not convincing as he lacked grounds. On the last day, he gave up running in the primary.
An unverified presidential runner is boyfriend material with unknown marriage potential. Ahn Cheol-soo may still be considered a boyfriend.
His academic background is flawless, and he has made a name as an entrepreneur, professor and public speaker. These qualities make him a great boyfriend. But it is unknown if he would make a great spouse as well.
He needs to get through various rounds of vetting. Most importantly, we need to check if he does what he says he’s going to do and who he is friends with.
We can trust him if he is a man of his word, and his friends would be an indication of his personality. No matter how rich, famous or smart Ahn is, marriage is a risky business if you don’t have trust.
The Ahn Cheol-soo controversy is stirring the country. There are rumors of threats and blackmail, and conversations among friends have been revealed. It all seems chaotic and confusing. But once the muddy water settles, we will be able to see the fish in the clear water.
The voters have questions for Ahn. Why did he say he had not been a homeowner when he had purchased an apartment in a redevelopment zone when he was 26?
When he made hundreds of millions of won as an outside director, did he provide proper surveillance on conglomerate operations? Why did he exaggerate his stories about military service? Has he learned about the candlelight vigils, Yongsan and Jeju bases and the sinking of the naval vessel Cheonan?
If Ahn passes the test, he would be the most eligible candidate for marriage. But if he fails, he would remain a dating partner, just like the man in the trench coat we all remember.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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