Keep your promises, President Park

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Keep your promises, President Park

The president’s inaugural address is most important as it’s a sincere vow before the people at home and abroad to faithfully carry out the duties of the presidency. Our presidents have meant what they promised in inaugural speeches. But sometimes they weren’t able to keep them.

In his 2003 inaugural speech, President Roh Moo-hyun demanded North Korea scrap its nuclear programs and defined its nuclear ambitions as a “grave threat to the peace of the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world.” However, he virtually gave a green light to the recalcitrant regime’s nuclear weapons development by saying, “Why not North Korea if India can do it?” Roh even hinted at the possibility of Seoul giving up the Northern Limit Line in the tense maritime border at his 2007 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. Despite his pledge to foster the Korea-U.S. alliance, those ties became frayed.

Five years earlier, President Kim Dae-jung promised “not to allow any military provocations by the North.” However, a South Korean warship sank in the Yellow Sea in a fatal exchange of fire after he blocked a proactive response to the provocation. Kim’s $450 million aid to Pyongyang in exchange for a summit with Kim Jong-il only made the North more reckless.

In 2008, President Lee Myung-bak underscored the importance of national security and presidential service. But we ended up with a spate of corruption scandals involving his relatives and aides, not to mention his weak response when the North bombarded Yeonpyeong Island.

In her inaugural address, President Park Geun-hye came up with many promises ranging from an “inventive economy” to “economic democratization” to “enhancement of people’s happiness.” To sum it up, she vowed a second miracle on the Han River - reminding us of her father’s first. But the economic miracle Park Chung Hee achieved was only possible due to people’s blood and tears amid Kim Il Sung’s unflinching ambition for communist revolution, a critical lack of capital and manpower and two oil crises.

Her second miracle already faces tough challenges. With the North’s persistent nuclear dream testing her “trust-building process” on the peninsula, Park must strive to keep her promises.


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