Role reversalThe ruling and opposition parties are still arguing over state-authored history textbooks. This is not the first time history has become a political controversy. It was a topic of fierce debate during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
In 2004, former President Roh proposed “clarifying the past” as a major national agenda in his Aug. 15 speech. The National Assembly passed a special law to investigate pro-Japanese activities. Moon Jae-in was the Blue House Secretary for Civil Affairs at the time.
President Park Geun-hye was leading the opposition Grand National Party, which criticized the government and the ruling party’s actions.
The two groups are standing in the exact opposite positions 11 years later. Not only has the administration changed hands, but their stances have also switched. After President Roh discussed the need to clarify the past, Park visited former President Roh Tae-woo at his Yeonhui-dong residence on Aug. 20. In the conversation with Roh Tae-woo, Park said, “History really belongs to the historians and the citizens.”
Park sounded exactly like the opposition politicians criticizing the state-authored history textbooks today: “If politicians try to judge history, they will have political intentions and objectives.”
However, at the Cabinet meeting on Nov. 10, Park said, “Those who oppose state-authored textbooks talk about diversity. But most of the authors of the most problematic modern history chapters in the existing seven textbooks are inclined to a certain ideology, including the Teachers and Education Workers Union.”
Every remark of the president related to the election has become controversial, just as during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
At the Korea Broadcasting Journalists Club press conference in 2004, former President Roh Moo-hyun said, “If there is anything the president can do to give votes to the Uri Party, I would want to do everything within the boundaries of the law.”
Then, the Grand National Party tried to impeach him for the remark. As the leader of the Grand National Party, Park said on the Constitutional Court decision, “President Roh Moo-hyun should understand the true meaning of the Constitutional Court decision and prevent such unfortunate things from happening again. Just as the court pointed out, the president should focus on state affairs without damaging the duties mandated by the Constitution and constitutionalism in the future.”
However, at a Cabinet meeting in June, Park said, “The politics of betrayal, using elections politically and breaking trust upon election, produces hegemony and cronyism, and I ask the voters judge them in the election.”
The opposition party requested an investigation of election law violations. On Tuesday, she said, “I ask the voters that only those who are true to the people be chosen.”
She criticizes what others do as scandalous and thinks what she does is romantic. But no matter who’s involved, scandals are nothing but scandalous.
The author is the deputy editor of political and international news of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 13, Page 30
by KIM SUNG-TAK