Welcome home, Mr. Ban

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Welcome home, Mr. Ban

We welcome the return of former United Nations Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. Only about a half century ago, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Because of the Korean War and the national division, it joined the United Nations only in 1991. It is truly a point of pride for the Korean people that Ban served as the head of the United Nations for a decade and made such accomplishments as the Paris agreement on climate change.

There will probably be no opposition if a parade takes place to welcome him at Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, where weekly candlelight vigils are being held to protest President Park Geun-hye’s alleged abuse of power. But it is unfortunate that he will first face severe scrutiny and strong demands to prove his vision and capability rather than a warm welcome because his return is his first step to running for president.

In fact, Ban had to answer questions about allegations that he had received $230,000 from Park Yeon-cha, former chairman of Taekwang Industrial, at a press event at Incheon International Airport upon his arrival. It was also demanded he address an international bribery scandal involving his younger brother and nephew that broke out just before his return.

Opposition parties will likely raise new accusations against him. The country is suffering a paralysis in state affairs. In order to prevent another waste of national energy, the people hope Ban will clarify all the allegations raised so far. If he tries to dodge the accusations with ambiguous answers, he will be a great disappointment to the people.

Ban has not presented a specific policy vision until now. “Reconciliation of the people” and “national unity” were his phrases, but no one knows what plans he has to resolve the wealth gap, ideological and regional conflicts, youth unemployment and the North’s nuclear and missile developments. In fact, it is unclear if he is a conservative or a liberal.

Ban’s associates are mostly former diplomats and politicians who were loyal to former President Lee Myung-bak, and it was far from reconciliation and unity that he promoted.

Unless he resolves this uncertainty, Ban’s future won’t be so bright. Ban must go beyond relying on the people’s disgust with established politicians or the regional hope for a Chungcheong president.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 13, Page 30
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