Calls for an amendmentPublic opinion is brewing in favor of an amendment to the 1987 Constitution. A recent online survey by the JoongAng Ilbo, Reset Korea and Korea Research showed two out of three aged 18 years and older, or 66.5 percent, supported a constitutional amendment. As many as 66.3 percent believed everyday lives would improve through an amendment.
The largest 63 percent expected strengthening in civilian rights through a reform. More than half or 51.8 percent called for a separation of the president’s power or check on authority. Only 14.7 percent approved of the current presidential system where the power falls solely on the president.
Politicians also agree on the need for an amendment. Since President Roh Moo-hyun, presidents have each attempted reform. Roh outlined a reform bill, and President Moon Jae-in submitted a bill to the legislature. Despite democratic progress, the presidential power has often invaded the branches of legislative and judiciary to the point of appearing like the government of the Blue House. The presidential race therefore turns into a life-or-death ideological war. Candidates are people who could be elected instead of those who are eligible to become president. Due to questions on eligibility, the front-runners became both hated and loved. A survey by Korea Gallup showed disagreeable ratios for Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party and Yoon Seok-yeol and Hong Joon-pyo of the People Power Party at around 60 percent. Whoever is elected will not have broad support from the nation.
Yoon continues to flop. After his comment about former general-turned-president Chun Doo Hwan caused controversy, Yoon apologized. But a day later he posted a picture of him giving an apple to a dog on his social media channels. Since apple sounds the same as apology in Korean, people found the post insulting. He again had to apologize. It raises questions if he has the ability to connect with the public and read public sentiment. While paying respect in a cemetery for democracy activists in Gwangju, Lee Jae-myung stepped over a memorial for Chun Doo Hwan on the ground and sneered, “Yoon ould not have dared to step on this if he respects this person.” Whether he meant it to be a joke, it cannot be mature.
If disagreeable people make presidential candidates, there must be a problem in the presidential system. The discussions on a reform direction should start. Presidential candidates must set the stage.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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