The Roh Moo-hyun spirit

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The Roh Moo-hyun spirit

The author is a political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Most of the attendees at the memorial service marking the 13th anniversary of former President Roh Moo-hyun’s death on May 23 paid tribute to the “Roh Moo-hyun spirit.” Lee Jae-myung, former presidential candidate of the Democratic Party (DP), said, “I will not forget and will continue dreaming of a world where people can live without cheating and privileges.” The DP’s spokesperson Cho Oh-seob also issued a warning to the People Power Party (PPP), “Even though the spirit of Roh Moo-hyun is still alive in our hearts, the Yun Seok-yeol administration is speeding toward the Prosecutors’ Republic of Korea.”
On the other hand, the PPP attacked the DP with “Roh Moo-hyun’s dream.” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, who was the last prime minister of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, attended a memorial service and firmly said, “For democracy to work well, there should be integration and coexistence,” and “That was the philosophy of President Roh.” The PPP’s chief youth council member Kim Yong-tae attacked by saying, “It is only deplorable that those who ruin Roh’s dream say they will carry on Roh’s dream.”
Ahead of the local election on June 1, the prevailing view in politics is that the DP is bringing the supporters together with the memorial message while the PPP is aiming to expand to the moderates. They are consuming former President Roh differently depending on their political stance. As some former officials who worked in the Roh Moo-hyun administration join the Yoon government, the possibility of a clash over the interpretation of the Roh Moo-hyun spirit is growing.
At the 11th anniversary memorial service in 2020 right after a landslide general election victory for the DP, then-party leader Lee Hae-chan said, “We are welcoming the Roh Moo-hyun era without Roh Moo-hyun with the organized power of the awake citizens.” Lee encouraged the supporters, “Awake citizens, clearing of authoritarianism, balanced national development, breaking up giant far-right media that President Roh had advocated are being realized.”
At the 10th anniversary of President Roh’s passing in 2019, the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation pledged, “It is about time to end mourning.” It meant that the time has come to stop crying and objectively evaluate the former president. But watching the controversy over interpreting the Roh Moo-hyun spirit in politics, objective evaluation seems to be a distant wish.
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