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[Opinion] What Kind of `Counter Current` Is This?

Posted October. 11, 2001 08:49,   


It turned out, of course, useless to hope for change after seeing the people`s anger during Thanksgiving Day. They could have taken this as an opportunity to reflect deeply but they are doing the exactly opposite. It is a hopeless cause. It was only yesterday when they were panicking at the people`s criticisms after the series of public scandals. Whether it is the ruling power`s overconfidence or arrogance, the ruling administration surprisingly appears to be going against the stream of public opinion. As soon as Thanksgiving was over, the ruling party proposed a plan to eradicate negative propaganda and then opened the porthole for rumors about the opposition party receiving money from venture capital. In other words, it was as if the ruling party were blaming the scandals on the opposition party`s negative campaigning and the newspapers that published the campaign ads. The first thing and the right thing to do in such a situation is to reflect introspectively about why the public scandals occurred in the first place. Yet, the ruling party refuses to do so and comes out with an aggressive fighting stance. The party might think that it has the right to act this way, but they should know that the majority of the people see this as a display of their arrogance. The attitude `we can`t let up right now` is a deluded mindset. Taking such a strong stance will not make the party any stronger in reality.

How did the ruling party change like this all of a sudden? It must have some goal in mind, namely, the ambition to `recreate the regime` This `recreation of regime` is actually an old phrase that the ruling party has used for a while. The phrase means that the President intends to pass over the reins to a successor in the same party at the end of the term. The most important interest of the powerful is first and foremost the protection of the self and family. Others around the powerful feel the same way. This is a serious problem since no one wants to end up in a precarious situation after their place in power comes to an end. Hence, the first step for guaranteeing political security is the recreation of the regime.

This is not all. The `passing on` of the reins of power means that the heir will take care of the benefactor. There is an unspoken understanding that the heir will carry on the benefactor`s political agenda as well. The phrase `highest king politics` meant something similar. Hence, enforcing the recreation of the regime is to openly declare that one`s power is unjust. It is to admit that one cannot attain the goals under the given conditions. There is the danger of extremism here. Yet, we must remember that every government that sought to recreate the regime could never accomplish their goals.

Moreover, the `recreation of the regime` does not follow a right course of change but involves a forced, artificial transition. Behind this contrived transition is an authoritarian consciousness. Although the current administration has been the most outspoken advocate for eliminating authoritarianism, it has not been able to do so. External markers such as the change from `Your Presidential Excellency` to `Mr. President` and the drastic reduction of military politicians in government does not show the real face of the government. The preponderance of regionalism, undemocratic party politics that block or distort free discussion, viewing the opposition party as a force to control still remain the same, just like the administrations in the past. Why else would labels like `privatization of power` or `imperial president` fly about?

Although the ruling party states that they cannot do their work because of the opposition party, this is not something that the ruling party can say. If it had humbly accepted the fact that it began as a minority administration, it could have avoided the confrontational politics of today. Not only did the party refuse to consider this, it lent out government seats just like some authoritarian regimes have done. Moreover, close monitoring of all aspects of the government by the President and this intent to recreate the administration are nothing different from what authoritarian governments have done. The ruling party will not be able to ward off the label, `the new authoritarianism` Although no one will be able to stop it if the party insists `we will do as we please` the sad consequences are already apparent.

Choi Kyu-Chul kihang@donga.com