Make positions crystal clearIn an election, voters choose their favorite candidate based on one or two criteria they feel strongly about without taking complicated variables into account. In that sense, the two-way race between the ruling Saenuri Party candidate Park Geun-hye and the opposition Democratic United Party’s Moon Jae-in is better for voters as they don’t have to pay extra attention to a third or fourth candidate.
Strangely, however, a crucial issue has remained slightly out of focus despite both candidates’ otherwise sharp differences. It’s their views on the sinking of the Cheonan warship, the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island near the tense maritime border with the North and the shooting death of a South Korean tourist on Mount Kumgang, which were all committed by North Korea. Moon has never held Pyongyang officially accountable for the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong attacks, while saying he can let the murder at Mount Kumgang go if Pyongyang delivers an apology, even indirectly. Park has consistently demanded an official apology from the North for the three outrageous provocations.
Another front on which both candidates differ conspicuously is on their policies for conglomerates. Whereas Park supports a ban on new cross-shareholdings among subsidiaries of chaebol, Moon opposes both the old and new cross-shareholdings. In other words, they disagree on the very role of chaebol in the trajectory of our economic development and on the validity of a retroactive action against them.
Our curiosity centers on their views of our history and territorial sovereignty. Despite Park’s somewhat contrite remarks about her father’s military coup in 1961, the October Restoration in 1972 and the controversial Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation she headed until 2005, we still wonder if she is really sorry for her father’s oppression. Moon has expressed an intention to safeguard the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea, but we wonder what he thinks about his former boss Roh Moo-hyun’s confession at a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2007 that the NLL is not a legitimate territorial divide.
We hope Park and Moon make clear those views in televised debates that will provide a perfect venue to tell voters what they think on these vital issues. That will make the voters’ decisions easier.