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No Strong Attachment to Presidency

Posted October. 16, 2003 22:34,   


“I won’t stick to my presidential post.”

President Roh Moo-hyun has recently revealed his inner thoughts to some of his closest aides as the SK fund scandal involving former presidential secretary Choi Do-sul is continuing to expand.

An official of the Blue House announced on October 16 that President Roh said, “A full control on the Prosecution and National Intelligence Service will give me a hard time at the final stage of my term, even though it makes the current situation smooth.” The president showed his determination by saying, “I hope I can be remembered as a reform-initiative president and step down, no matter what the 5-year presidential term would be.”

Roh added, “I would choose to remain as a president in the nation’s memory who strived to cut political corruptions in Korean history, rather than hold the presidency in disgrace till the end with no fruitful reform.”

President Roh explained, “If I seize the prosecution, my surroundings will be likely to do wrong things, and later on, the prosecution will make use of it and bring me ‘lame duck’ status earlier. That is how the president becomes miserable at the end. The president’s aides will go to prison one by one after the term and likewise, a series of misfortune will continue.”

In reality, some of the Blue House officials suggested that the president should use the power of the Prosecution and National Intelligence Services for the chaos of the early stage. But Roh retorted, “I have no intention to follow the old-fashioned policy.”

Regarding the suggestion from his aides, President Roh stressed, “The prosecution will stop investigating Choi if I order them not to do so. However, at the end of my presidency, the result will swell out and influence all my close officials to the worst case.” The official said that President Roh hinted his strong will for political reform by saying, “According to Choi’s experience, those whoever receive 1 billion won will go to prison, and the same case to lawmakers who receive even less than 100 million won.”

President Roh said that he would like to be considered as a president who aimed to open the new era of autonomy and decentralization of authority, but faded away due to his aide’s scandal. He insisted, “Not all of the unsuccessful presidents are failures. His sacrifice will mature politics in history. It is not so important to complete one’s term just like Kim Young-sam or Kim Dae-jung.”

Meanwhile, in a bull session on Thursday with the participants of the World Knowledge Forum, Heritage Foundation Chairman Edwin Feulner asked about the issue of the public’s confidence in the president, and Roh replied, “I have desired to be a president with no defects and no corruption with money even before I had been elected by the nation. If a serious misdeed turns up, I would say I will be willing to resign for that reason.”

Roh added that he had decided to ask the public’s opinion for his leadership, since resignation might be taken as an irresponsible act.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com