Gather around and talk politicsIt is time for gatherings of family from different regions, workplaces and neighborhoods, providing a melting pot of various opinions. It often plays a crucial role in turning the tide in late-year presidential elections. This year, the Dec. 19 presidential election will be the main topic at the Chuseok table.
Before entering the debate, we should be aware of a few key points. Since acquiring grounds for democracy through constitutional reform in 1987, the country has made great strides in democratization and industrialization. Korea is now on the threshold of the most advanced rank group but has never been so divided among different ideologies, regions, classes, political preferences and ages. The three main contestants - Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party and Ahn Cheol-soo, independent candidate - all vowed to end the age of hostility and pave the way for the new age of tolerance and unity. Voters should watch closely whose actions do not match their words.
The candidates all relatively lack political experience, but all three are credited for integrity, sincerity and honesty. Voters should encourage the three to all work earnestly and play fairly.
Voters strictly demand ethical integrity from the candidates. Park Geun-hye endured a heavy attack and finally modified her understanding and assessment on past deeds of her father President Park Chung Hee, a strongman who ruled the country for 18 years. Political newcomer Ahn Cheol-soo was next to bow his head after admitting that his wife underreported the price of an apartment she bought in southeastern Seoul in 2001. If suspicions and questions are raised, candidates should address the issues sincerely, then apologize for any wrongdoings and promise not to repeat them. A presidential candidate must be judged by standards of highest morality.
The main candidates all promise to enhance social security and welfare. Promises range from child care and college tuition subsidies to funding for new homebuyers and senior-age welfare.
Voters also should pay attention to pairings among candidates. The liberals sought political marriages with odd partners. President Kim Dae-jung partnered with enemy Kim Jong-pil and President Roh Moo-hyun with billionaire Chung Mong-joon. If gaining power is the only goal, the partnership won’t last and will only end in political regression and disintegration. Any talk of an alliance should begin with a firm agreement on the values of attaining the goal of social unity and prosperity. We will only repeat the age of hostility and division if a new president is born out of self-interests.