Two-way communicationOn the campaign trail, President Moon Jae-in vowed to be a leader who mingles with everyday people by stopping by Namdaemun Market after work to share a bottle of soju. He declared an end to the days when the president was out of touch because they shuttled between the Blue House and the government buildings in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. He proposed turning Gwanghwamun Square into a large cultural and historical park.
The Gwanghwamun renovation project is ongoing, but the plan to move the presidential office was scrapped. A presidential committee that reviewed the plan concluded that it could not find enough space near the government building complex to accommodate presidential staff and security. The idea of moving the presidential office had been floated before, but it never went through due to various problems. The opposition party questioned why it had to spend money on a review when the plan was obviously unfeasible from the start. President Moon should personally explain why he cannot see through this campaign promise during his televised New Year’s press conference on Thursday.
The case underscores how it is important for presidential candidates to think out what they promise during the campaign. A campaign promise must be met, but it is also necessary for the president to correct the promise should it prove to be no longer viable. Moon must apply such flexibility to his other overly progressive campaign agendas. The phasing out of nuclear reactors should be one. The ruling party should also not consider the idea of pursuing other options of moving the presidential office to the Sejong administrative city or seek other locations.
What is important is stronger communication. Moon promised to be a president of Gwanghwamun to ensure a closer connection with the people. Communication does not mean knowing the phone numbers of the press and public contacts: it must be a two-way relationship. Instead of merely informing people of governmental policies, the president and government must pay more attention to public voices from all corners and reflect them in their policies. The president is expected to reshuffle his cabinet and staff. He must first check whether the new faces are really in tune with what the public wants.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 7, Page 30