What has changed?A year has passed since the National Assembly impeached former President Park Geun-hye. A majority of the people — 81 percent — approved of the impeachment, which led to a unanimous vote by the Constitutional Court to back the move and remove a president for the first time in history.
How has the historical event changed our society? So far, too little. The biggest reason behind the impeachment was power abuse. A clandestine group led by her confidante Choi Soon-sil was active because the president chose to stay disconnected and isolated. She kept only fawners at her side and stayed so aloof that even her chief of staff sometimes didn’t know where she was. Many had high expectations for the government under a liberal president who promised to be the opposite.
President Moon Jae-in said he would respect the opposition as a partner in governance at his inauguration speech. But he has made it the enemy of the government by targeting former conservative governments as “past evils” that must be punished and removed. Although he vowed to recruit a wide range of people, the presidential team and administration were filled with figures devoted to him and his party. Despite protests, he pushed ahead with a sharp hike in the minimum wage and sent his chief of staff on a mysterious mission to Dubai. The flaws have been muted by the feat in providing a breakthrough in North Korean affairs and the Me Too movement, but do not change the fact that the Blue House remains as overbearing and incommunicative as ever.
The conservative front showed no signs of hope after it fell with the former president. The only change in the party is its name. It is still deluded enough to behave like it did when conservative presidents were in power. It has not made any rigorous movements for reform. The party has a pitiful approval rating of 10 percent, even as several high-profile politicians on the liberal front have been accused of sexual misconduct in the Me Too movement.
Society has not changed much either. One of the key issues behind Park’s impeachment was the slow and slack response to rescue passengers from the Sewol ferry. People were furious when she was accused of being preoccupied with beauty care instead of spearheading the rescue campaign. A year has passed, but public safety has not improved much. Deadly fires in a hospital in Miryang and a fitness center in Jecheon could have been avoidable if safety measures and system had been enforced.
A country has no future if it does not learn from the past. Unity and prosperity are only possible through communication. The opposition party must get its act together. Only a communicative president, a reasonable opposition, and conscious and active people can together push the nation in the right direction.
*JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 10, Page 26