Politicians should fear for the future“When are you going into politics?” my friends always jokingly asked after I started working for a newspaper. A handful of journalists are elected to the National Assembly in every general election, and they would say, “Why don’t you give it a shot?” “I’ll run for the next election,” I would respond.
Why can’t I become a member of the National Assembly? First of all, it is beyond my capacity. I am not the perfect husband and father, and there is still so much to do at work. It would be too much to think about state affairs.
Secondly, I don’t think I have the qualities to become a politician. Max Weber said that passion, a feeling of responsibility and a sense of proportion were the necessary qualities of a politician. Joseon scholar Jeong Yak-yong considered integrity as the highest value of a public servant and said, “It is unthinkable for a man without integrity to become a public servant.”
Politics is not my path. But I began to wonder: who among politicians in Korea, especially members of the National Assembly, have these qualities? I could think of a few historical figures, but none from our contemporaries.
In fact, those who have the opposite qualities may be considered the “politician type” in Korea. For example, those who are more interested in personal benefits over national interests, who are good at scheming rather than having virtues and knowledge, and who make vain promises, seem to be referred to as “politician material.”
The fact that we have a negative perception of politicians is no news, but I must bring it up again due to our urgent situation. Let’s look at the economy first. The GDP growth in the third quarter was 0.9 percent. The economy is growing less than 1 percent per year. Exports have decreased 2.6 percent since the third quarter of 2013, and the rate of the decrease was the largest since the fourth quarter of 2008 during the financial crisis. Industrial production showed a decreasing trend in September and October. Foreign investors are taking money out of the Korean stock market and foreign exchange is unstable.
While the economy is struggling, politicians are still blaming each other. Lately, Moon Hee-sang, the head of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s emergency committee said that most citizens assess that the recent economic stimuli measures have completely failed. But what was the opposition party doing during the failure? It was caught up with the Sewol ferry incident, so no economic measures have been processed until recently.
The discussion of constitutional revision and the revision of the election act on redistricting makes an ordinary man like me worry about state affairs. Politicians can plan the future of the nation through cooperation, but when they fight over their own interests, a terrible tomorrow awaits us.
*The author is a deputy business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 5, Page 30
by KIM JUN-HYUN