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[Opinion] DJ Fights Back

Posted July. 17, 2002 22:25,   


Presidential staffs in the Blue House repeatedly say that President Kim is politically neutral. They assert that Kim is committed to national affairs such as invigorating the nation’s economy, pointing out his breakup with the ruling Millennium Democratic Party.

It hardly sounds convincing, however. At the July 15 press interview, Kim apparently made his point – he said something about ‘overhaul and a fresh start of the controversial Asia Pacific Peace Foundation.’ And this is why president does not seem politically neutral.

Kim’s second son Hong-up has been charged with taking 4.7 billion won from large corporations in bribes. And behind his case is APPF where he was vice director. And Hong-up was a de-facto head of the organization, which served as Kim’s political beachhead. APPF was originally founded as a foreign policy and security research institution Kim was supposed to join after his term. But now it appears more like Ilhae Foundation, an idea envisioned by former dictator Jun Doo-hwan who received tens of billions of won from businesses.

APPF was a fund raising organization, and the second son was a head campaigner. Seemingly it was Hong-up who collected money, but if the organization had had nothing to do with President Kim, contributions would have been meager. It’s no secret that quiet a few businesses were lining up to make contributions. In this respect, the bribery case is about the foundation as well as Hong-up himself, and is a political scandal.

Political Tenacity Betrays Public Sentiment

Kim then mentioned a new start of the foundation. By doing so, he exhibited his propensity to persist against opposition. Whereas people call for dissolution of APPF, Kim chose to push forward with his plan. His tenacity was also found in the conflict with the prosecution over his son’s arrest and later appointment of acting prime minister Jang Sang.

Just look at the profile of his government. We have never seen such a politically-motivated government before. And Kim never mentioned ‘political neutrality’ himself. And there must be something in his silence.

Look at where Kim stands. His political career is in its peak, but he is also facing uncertainties. And his track record shows that he can and will fight against challenges. He has been an ultimate survivor who turns the tide last minute. He is a man of sophisticated remarks and logical thinking.

Some say that Kim is a lame duck who has little room to move. Others say that he looks so fragile and decrepitude. But what they see is not necessarily what they believe. They know little about the sheer power he is wielding. They must not underestimate his capability to mobilize funds, manpower and information. At the end of his term he is, he still can do anything he wants to. He is an unpredictable seasoned politician called ‘master of politics,’ and those in power know it too well.

Plan to Form New Party

Yet another reason for skepticism is that the woes in the ruling party seem to have something to do with the president. The chasm between the reformist camp centering on presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun and the marginalized appears too wide to be narrowed. At the core of the contention is how to break up with Kim.

Some are moving to form a new party, while Roh and the reformist force stay. The ruling party reportedly gave up their hopes on Roh. Given the presidential election slated for December, a new party will likely be formed in September at latest. And founding a new party, which requires a huge amount of funds and organizational resources, is impossible without help from those in power.

A new party without Kim’s involvement, therefore, makes little sense. In particular, a new entity looks like a safety net and a useful defense mechanism for the embattled president.

Kim gave up his party membership, and his associates emphasize the political neutrality. All he has to do is to stay behind the scene. Run-of-the-mill people will never understand the details of the power game. The breakup was a political move that came just in time. It was against the will of the people and a step back to the dark past.

Besieged with a series of corruption scandals, the president and the established are about to make a crucial move. Are they going to strike back? But they have to realize that if so, they will face the will of the people.