Two declarations of independenceWhen the pursuit of justice goes too far, it brings about cruelty. In “Les Miserables,” Inspector Javert managed to uncover the crime committed by Jean Valjean out of hunger, but no one applauded him. It was a priest’s love that saved Jean Valjean.
We must not ignore justice, but we have to watch out for cruelty. A sense of balance between justice and love is needed in politics. Love, sometimes, has to fight against cruel justice. Love sometimes needs to keep justice from becoming dogmatic. In this sense, love is better than justice.
With Ahn Cheol-soo’s exit from the presidential race, the upcoming election will be a clear, simple battle between Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in. It’s like a match between the left and the right, like the battle of Obama versus Romney in the United States and the race between Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Hoi-chang in 2002.
The two candidates need to do one thing each. Whichever one finishes it first will win the election.
Moon must declare his independence from his former boss and political mentor Roh Moo-hyun. Voters should be able to vote for President Moon in the 2012 election, who is independent from Roh.
Moon has superior abilities to engage, tolerate and unite the people compared to Roh, but he stayed in Roh’s shadow at the most decisive moments.
He has failed to step out from Roh’s shadow and shine on his own because he lacks courage. He is afraid of giving up the label “pro-Roh.”
The pro-Roh faction has become a political phenomenon, moving beyond the human network of people who cherished Roh. Pro-Roh politicians have fought battles of justice against cheats, hoary privileges and established rights. Some have become cruel like Inspector Javert.
Ahn was basically pushed out of the presidential race because of the relentless and threatening public opinion drive by the pro-Roh politicians. It’s part of their culture. It is their understanding that anything and everything can be forgiven if it helped bring a presidential victory to Moon, the successor of Roh. They consider the victory a symbol of justice.
Moon has failed to see that the failure of the Roh administration, which he was an integral part of, came from antagonism and hatred of rival groups. He argued that the Roh administration focused its energy too much on political democratization and failed in social democratization, but that is wrong.
The Roh loyalists didn’t lose their influence because they failed in social democratization. It was because of Roh’s severe sense of justice, through which he split the country into two groups and prompted a never-ending fight.
Moon must know this perfectly well, but he’s not willing to admit it. Perhaps he has no courage to reach down and touch the essence of Roh. That’s not a good attitude.
Moon must declare his independence from Roh in order to win over Ahn’s supporters and centrists - and even maybe some of Park’s supporters.
In a very similar way, Park must declare independence from her father Park Chung Hee. Park must summon the courage to face the fact that there are people in this country who will harbor resentments for their entire life toward the Park Chung Hee regime and its anti-democratic deeds. Their wounds will be opened once again if Park wins the presidency.
If Park is trapped by her filial duty, she will never understand their resentment.
Because the strong feelings of the anti-Park population have spread, Park’s support rate has been stuck at around 45 percent. For her to break through, she must penetrate deeply into those enemies’ hearts.
She must sincerely express her agony and regrets over her father’s misdeeds and embrace their feelings and melt their icy hearts with her tears.
Emotions can do many things that reasoning cannot, and Park can only become a true president and reconcile with history through this process. The people want to see President Park Geun-hye. They do not want to live in an era of Park Chung Hee’s daughter.
If she acknowledges her father’s demerits with genuine emotion, no one will criticize her for ignoring his merits.
The people think Park started to stand apart from her father but stopped in the middle of the process. Park must declare her independence from her father in order to capture the centrists who once supported Ahn, but who are now disappointed because they do not support the Democratic United Party.
Will the declaration of independence from Roh come first, or the declaration of independence from Park?
Through the presidential election, history will move forward.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chun Young-gi