[VIEW 2035] Who is the president's 'key stakeholder'?

Home > Opinion > Columns

print dictionary print

[VIEW 2035] Who is the president's 'key stakeholder'?

Sung Ji-won
The author is a political news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo. 
“Only a few days ago / I could read what you’re thinking / Talking to each other / I can’t read your mind anymore”
These are the catchy lyrics from a song written by one of my favorite singers. Every end of a relationship starts with a gap between the desires to know what your lover is thinking and a situation where you can’t read his or her thoughts. Just like you go through the aftermath of a breakup and you can’t ask your ex what their status message on a messenger application means anymore. There’s nothing you can do, even though you can send a message like “Are you awake?” at night. You can’t be their “key stakeholder” anymore.
Normally, the term “key stakeholder” is used in articles to hide a source. The person is someone who knows classified internal information — that’s why you can’t let others know his or her identity. I got to think that we can use the word not only for news articles but also our personal relationships. A key stakeholder, someone who knows everything in detail and communicates what an important figure is thinking. As a human being, everyone wants to become that sort of person for somebody.
So, who’s the person who knows what the president is thinking? In the political world, there is an ongoing war over who the key stakeholder is. Is yesterday’s stakeholder still keeping his position today? Who took the position for a new key stakeholder? These days, we are seeing a “key stakeholder’s key stakeholder” or “a person who wants to become a key stakeholder.”
Journalists are not the only ones who try to follow them to get internal information. Nowadays, a number of politicians ask me questions like, “He didn’t call me. You know who got the call?” or “So do you know someone who knows more about it?”

The problem is that these kinds of relationships are hard to retain for a long time. When I look back, I remember that I met an abundance of key stakeholders when I worked as a political journalist for less than four years. And they were called “former spokesperson,” “former chief secretary” or “former senior secretary.”

Moving away from the core causes you pain. Misleading information starts to spread and the relationship go sour. When I asked those “former” key stakeholders what they had experienced, their answers were usually the same. While some wrong information started to spread, they talked to themselves, “Well, there will be no problems at all.” Sooner or later, they got frustrated witnessing someone take their position.

A member of the ruling party I recently met made an eloquent joke that goes: “The very last key stakeholder for President Yoon would be the first lady, Ms. Kim Keon-hee.” “The first chief secretary for the Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administration couldn’t keep their seat even for six months. They were all key stakeholders. Just look back and think about how long the mainstream had been holding out,” another pointed out. 
The story does not end here. Former president Kim Dae-jung had to watch his key stakeholders being called upon by the court at the end of his term. What he wrote in his autobiography shows the sheer reality. “I had faith in them. I thought they would always be there. But it turned out to be a mirage. Only a pile of disappointment and regrets left now.”

BY SUNG JI-WON [sung.jiwon@joongang.co.kr]
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)