South Korean President Moon Jae-in had a luncheon meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae with 12 senior leaders from various fields including former Prime Minister Lee Hong-gu, former National Intelligence Service chief Lee Jong-chan, former Supreme Court Justice Kim Young-ran and former Environment Minister Yoon Yeo-joon. It was in a month when the president invited economic senior leaders to Cheong Wa Dae on April 3. Discussions in general occurred on governance with a focus on current political issues.
Many voices were raised regarding political and social integration during the meeting. A participant stressed personnel principles based on political fairness and integration, saying that the president does exist for all the nation, not for just a political faction. It can be seen as a watered-down message to avoid a biased personnel appointment in order to ensure national integrity. A former minister pointed out that the status quo only signifies a national misfortune where both on the political spectrum fight regarding almost every issue. Another comment was also made that President Moon should resolve the political situation where the major opposing party struggles furiously while the ruling Minjoo Party is still behaving just like an opposing one even in the second year of the administration.
At last month’s meeting with the president, seniors in the economic sector had emphasized that the abrupt spike in the minimum wage and reduced working hours only have an adverse effect on the economy. Some raised voices that excessive demands from labor should not be met. Even after last month’s meeting, unfortunately, there was no sign of such comments being reflected in policy-making. Rather, the Moon Jae-in administration has stuck to the principle of income-led growth. It should prevent the current meeting with various social seniors from being criticized as an “one-time political event only for show.”
President Moon said that his administration established a governance consultative body to assist discussion among the ruling Minjoo, opposition parties, and the government, claiming it is an example of comprehensive governance. Still, what matters more is to produce tangible results. It is important to engage in constant dialogue with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party to reduce the gap and ensure mutual trust. Nevertheless, the representative of the ruling party defamed the Liberty Korea Party as an eyesore, not regarding it as a political companion. Regarding a “fast-track” package of reform bills, political affairs staff at Cheong Wa Dae stayed on the sidelines not making any effort to contact the opposing party. Now is the time to practice self-contemplation, not point an accusing finger at someone else.
May 10 marks the second anniversary of the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration. President Moon said in his inaugural speech that national unity matters and he will fix political division and conflicts, stressing that opposing parties are a partner in governance. Two years after then, however, seniors from all walks of life are lamenting that things run in the very opposite direction. Social conflicts have only increased due to excessive attacks on the previous administration’s wrongs. Added to this, the Minjoo-led fast-track package of reform bills led to physical conflict with the Liberty Korea Party, which has taken to the streets in opposition. President Moon should listen to the voices of senior leaders and reflect their advice in governance. Without doubt, it is not desirable to enter into the third year of governance while talking the talk, not walking the walk.