Toward a better democracyA year has passed since the country elected a new president. But Korean political society failed to budge an inch in the last year, stuck in the tar baby of an issue over what had happed before and during the presidential race. The presidential office, the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party can’t seem to stop pointing fingers at each other. Even after the stunning news of the execution of North Korea’s second most powerful man, Jang Song-thaek, the National Assembly has not even considered discussing a bill on North Korean human rights.
The government is resorting to an alarming mobilization of police even as a prolonged strike by railroad workers disrupts public rail services and freight deliveries. The posting of satirical political statements under the cynical title “How Are You?” which started on university campuses is becoming a popular pastime across society. The year 2013 was entirely wasted in a fruitless battle of wills between the ruling party and the opposition. We have seen little responsibility from overly eager and self-indulgent politicians blinded by their interpretation of justice and conviction. Is there no possibility for the politics of compromise and a problem-solving democracy in this country?
Looking back on President Park Geun-hye’s first-year in office, Lee Jung-hyun, senior presidential spokesman, said what is most upsetting is the criticism of the president being incommunicative and disconnected. “If uncommunicativeness is claimed by those resisting reforms, we are proud of it.” But such provocative and immature language should not have come from the president’s spokesperson. The victor in an election should pay respect to his or her rivals. That is one of the most important values of democracy.
DP head Kim Han-gill and his party ramble on and on about the ruling power’s incommunicability. Korean democracy is rigid because it is modelled upon the student movement that tends to ignore reality and procedures and exaggerate a so-called greater cause. A democracy born out of a struggle against authoritarian regimes should evolve into a respect for law and order and problem-solving instead of constant fighting. Kim Byung-joon, a professor who served as senior secretary for policy planning for former President Roh Moo-hyun, said the current crisis in democracy does not simply come from the spy agency’s interference in a presidential race but from the political incompetence of the democratic forces.
Democracy is not just about a system but involves history and customs. Law and principles make up a democracy. Korea’s democracy should now be built to solve problems.