A dangerous integration, reallyThe hurriedly born new opposition party is reportedly struggling to establish its new identity ahead of the June 4 local elections. It all started with the simple question of whether to include the June 15 Joint Declaration between President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the October 4 Joint Statement between President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il in the platform of the New Political Democratic United Party, its provisional English name.
As independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo’s supporters suggested deleting the two sensitive statements - aimed at engaging North Korea in the road to the peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula - from the draft of the new party’s platform, the liberal Democratic Party was vehemently against the idea, saying the decision would betray their proud legacy of rapprochement with the North. After Ahn Cheol-soo hastily backed down, the DP’s anger has barely subsided.
However, such conflicts stemming from fundamental differences in political orientations between the DP and the Ahn Cheol-soo group, which is still opaque about its stance on sensitive issues, are most likely to emerge before and after its announcement of a party platform as early as today.
Ahn’s group also wants to acknowledge the country’s remarkable achievement of industrialization despite the conservative government’s authoritarian rule, but the DP has been stingy in accepting the government’s role in advancing Korea to the OECD club through unparalleled economic growth. While the DP advocates for a fundamental reform of chaebol and other conglomerates, the Ahn camp also wants to play the role of “unbiased watchdog” on matters of businesses.
Such discrepancy is most likely to resurface at any time unless the two groups maintain a symbiotic relationship through chemical integration, which seems almost impossible on the political stage. If the new party wants to win the local elections, the legislative elections in 2016 and the presidential elections a year later, it should reborn.
By Kang Hiok, Student at Konkuk University