Three wishes for the presidentFirstly, I hope that many jobs are added, the youth unemployment rate goes down and people can work until the age of 65 without worrying about retirement. Secondly, I hope our children can receive proper education to foster creativity, independence and ethics. Thirdly, I hope the country is reunified and separated families no longer have to cry.
If a genie named Park Geun-hye comes out of the magic lamp and offers to grant three wishes, these are mine. It would take magic to make any of these wishes come true. Moreover, President Park has only two years left in her term. But if she lays the foundation and the next president continues the efforts, they are not entirely impossible. I really wish President Park would begin paving the way in the remainder of her term.
But it is hard to expect these wishes to come true. The Republic of Korea is trapped in the mire of state-authored history textbooks. The opposition party is protesting in the street, and citizens are staging candlelight rallies. “State authorship” became the scarlet letter. At this juncture, “save the economy” is an empty slogan. No matter how chaotic politics were, the economy used to go its way, but that was the bygone era. My three wishes are just dreams in this chaos.
President Park believes the current textbooks depict modern history from a defeatist perspective. If the purpose of history education is to acquire healthy nationalism, patriotism and a sense of community, the defeatist view needs to be corrected. State authorship can be a solution. However, it is not the only way to change the defeatist historical view.
President Park’s “normalization of history” is not entirely based on her love for her father to change how her father is described in textbooks, as some may argue. She should know better that she is the president of this country and a symbol of national integration before she is the daughter of Park Chung-hee. If she is determined to change how her father is depicted in the textbooks, she must swallow it. She earned votes to win the presidential election, and it is enough proof of those voters’ approval of Park Chung-hee. When economy is struggling, Park Chung-hee’s reputation is seen more positively.
Korea is in crisis. The president has many issues to confront, especially the serious slump Korean economy is in. The New Politics Alliance for Democracy Chairman Moon Jae-in said that it was hard to understand why the president is obsessing over the issue of state-authored history textbook in such harsh economic conditions. The president needs to declare that she will back off from the history textbook issue and ask the opposition party to help in reviving the economy. She should ask them to resolve all the economic revitalization bills pending for the last 33 months.
The general election is scheduled for April 2016, and the next presidential election is slated for December 2017. Once the wound is stitched up incorrectly, the scar will last at least two years. The country will live on, but it is certainly not the Republic of Korea we dream of.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 28, Page 34
*The author is a business news reporter for the Joongang Ilbo.