The betrayal of the DUPIn a modern state, political parties are essential elements as crucial as families. The parties form legislatures and incubate leaders. Political parties are key components in Korea as well. Article 8 of the Constitution explains that the state should protect political parties. The government provides tens of billions of won in subsidies to them. So political parties are not private clubs for select individuals. They are strictly public groups.
Political parties exert significant influence on citizens. When a party makes an example to safeguard values, society is headed in the right direction. In contrast, when a party undermines values, society staggers. A party can make or break the overall social atmosphere.
The most notable vice in Korean history was the merger of three parties in 1990. In the 1988 general election, voters gave the victory to the opposition camp. However, Roh Tae-woo’s Democratic Justice Party, Kim Young-sam’s Unification Democratic Party and Kim Jong-pil’s Democratic Republican Party joined together. They claimed that the merger was a value-based alliance, but actually it was an interest-based collusion. The merger divided the country into two. The ideological conservatives got together to isolate the progressives. Regionally, the Gyeongsang and Chungcheong regions joined together to corner South and North Jeolla. Moreover, the three-party collusion established a harmful tradition of compromising the means for purpose.
Another vice of the political parties is betrayal. At every presidential election, rebel groups would attack the candidate selected through a proper process. The presidential candidate elected from a legitimate primary is like the head of the household. Just as a family would not kick out the head of the household in difficult times or for minor mistakes, a properly nominated presidential candidate will run for the party once selected.
Even when a new fault is revealed or a mistake is made, the organization has to share the accountability of the candidate. They should unite and work together, and if all things fail, the party can be the opposition for five years and bide its time. However, the traitors attack only the candidate. They cause division in front of the enemy.
In 1997, Suh Chung-won and Lee Jae-oh led the rebellion in the New Korea Party. They claimed that the party’s presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang would not be able to win election because of the allegation involving his son’s suspicious exemption from military service. But their rebellion lacked justification. The party should have been accountable for failing to strictly verify the candidate’s history, including overblown doubts about his son’s dodging of military duty. If the party members acknowledged candidate Lee’s weakness and instead highlighted his strengths in a unified manner, the outcome would have been quite different.
In the 2002 presidential election, the anti-Roh Moo-hyun trend was spreading in the Democratic Party. Roh’s popularity plummeted because of his controversial remarks. Scandals involving President Kim Dae-jung’s sons also contributed to the party’s defeat in local elections that year.
Then, a considerable number of party members began to break away and move to Chung Mong-joon, the third candidate. Many incumbent and former lawmakers left the DP or called for a candidate merger. They included Rhee In-je, Park Sang-cheon, Kim Young-bae, Hong Jae-hyong, Jeong Kyun-hwan, Kim Min-seok and An Dong-seon.
However, their actions lack justification. Even if a candidate fails to win the election, party members should support their candidate. It is the order and principle of the primary system. The administration may change every five years, but the duty of the members is everlasting. The voters are quietly watching the situation. In fact, voters supported the legitimate candidate - Roh Moo-hyun - who was under persecution of his own party.
Once again in 2012, the candidate - Moon Jae-in, this time of the Democratic United Party - is under attack. Some 200 former and incumbent local assembly members in the North Jeolla chapter announced their support for Ahn Cheol-soo. And 67 former National Assembly members, including former party leaders Chung Dae-chul and Lee Bu-young, called for the party to allow members to freely choose between Moon and Ahn. They are virtually asking for a right to “ostracize” the official candidate, Moon. The anti-Roh group is said to be planning for a more aggressive rebellion.
Moon is the legitimate candidate nominated by the largest opposition party with 57 years of history through 13 regional primaries. No flaws have been revealed or mistakes made. Even if he was at fault, the party should unite to support him.
Even if it means defeat, the party has to share the responsibility. However, they are attacking the legitimate candidate because a pro-Roh figure would not be able to defeat Park Geun-hye. Then why did the party select him in the first place?
The betrayals in the DUP will not remain merely a power struggle. They are linked to the community value of members’ duty.
What will the young generation learn when the legitimate candidate is attacked by members in every presidential election? They would think it is okay to attack the head of a household if the household is faced with challenges. For the ethics of society, the DUP must reprimand the traitors.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin