Breaking the silencePresident Moon Jae-in broke a long silence in his meeting Monday with Blue House correspondents and in his interview with JTBC. The 160-minute conversation with the broadcaster, in particular, was exceptionally long for an outgoing president. But our hopes for wisdom were dashed by his defense of his criticism of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who will replace him on May 10. As a head of state, Moon made inappropriate remarks over and over.
Asked about the reasons for the ruling Democratic Party’s (DP) defeat in the March 9 presidential election in the interview, the president attributed it to others. “I have never stepped into the ring,” he said. But that shows his lacking comprehension of representative democracy, as he is the orchestrator of the ruling camp. As elections are held to determine who should take power, a ruling party must surrender its powers to the opposition if its governance went wrong. Moon has never left the ring.
Moon’s rosy description of his five-year presidency was not convincing either. About soaring real estate prices despite 27 rounds of measures by his government, he brushed it off. “That’s a global phenomenon. Our property price hikes were among the lowest in the world,” he said. But that’s an apparent distortion of facts as he factored in housing prices in regions which didn’t rise as sharply as in Seoul. In fact, apartment prices in the capital surged by a whopping 90 percent over the last four years.
Questioned about his sincerity when he instructed then-prosecutor general Yoon Suk-yeol, now president-elect, to investigate even the sitting power, Moon said there was no corruption, no conflict of interest and no abuse of power under his administration. However, a number of prosecutors were demoted after trying to dig up dirt on the powers that be. If Moon’s aides and DP lawmakers are clean, why are they pushing to strip the prosecution of its investigation authority entirely.
Moon also downplayed the Cheonan sinking and the Yeonpyeong shelling in 2010, which killed scores of sailors and civilians, as “military clashes” instead of serious provocations. About the president-elect, Moon criticized him for stepping down without finishing his two-year term. But it was Moon that forced him out of office for unfathomable reasons. After Yoon had stressed the need for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea at clear signs of nuclear missile launches, Moon put the blame on his lack of experiences with the North. If so, should we let North Korea fire nuclear weapons to us?
We hope the outgoing president will reflect on what he said in his first meeting with his senior presidential secretaries shortly after his election victory. “The time for unity has come,” he said.