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[Opinion] Governor Kim’s Decision

Posted December. 15, 2003 23:14,   


At the local elections held in June 2002, 43 heads of local governments were elected for the third time. There are many heads of local governments who are considering running for the general elections next year, without completing their terms. The consecutive terms one can serve as the local government chief is limited to three. Incumbent representatives cannot but feel nervous as local government chiefs armed with organizational abilities and vote capacities through nearly 10 years’ experience of being close with residents in the local administration, show interest in the election. Much interest is especially focused on provincial governors such as Shim Dae-pyoung (South ChungCheong Province), Lee Eui-geun (North Gyeoungsang Province), and Kim Hyuk-kyu (South Gyeoungsang Province). Governor Shim recently announced that he would not run in the general elections despite pressure from his party to do so. No particular movement has been spotted from Governor Lee.

Governor Kim began his career at the Changnyeong-gun town office as a fifth rank (Eul, equal to the present ninth rank) government official after graduating from Pusan National University. He showed his devotion by making it to the home ministry in six years after making his way through the Changnyeong county office and the South Gyeoungsang provincial office. However, he did not feel satisfied with his small success and turned his life around by going to the U.S. with only $1,000 in his pocket to start a new beginning as a bag vendor on the street. Kim established the “Hyuk Trading Co.” and released the “belt pouch,” a bag you tie around your waist, which was a hit. He got the idea for his product from the money belt that Korean peddlers used in the past.

If the former chief presidential secretary Park Jie-won is hailed as the millionaire of the Honam area through his wig business to the Korean society in New York, Kim is the millionaire of the Busan and South Gyeoungsang province (formerly spelled Pusan and Kyeongnam, thus called PK) through his bag business. Governor Kim supported democratization campaigns by establishing the New York Democracy Promotion Association, became the presidential secretary of former president Kim Young-sam, and then was appointed governor of the South Gyeoungsang Province. Government and popular elections together, he has been elected four times. Calling himself the CEO of the “South Gyeoungsang Province Co.,” he has already attempted to become the “CEO of ROK” by running for the presidential candidate spot of the Grand National Party with no success.

The GNP criticized Kim as a “betrayer,” a “degenerate,” and the “product of scheming politics” for changing parties. The local sentiment at the South Gyeoungsang Province, a GNP stronghold, was also not very positive. It seems that Kim’s decision to change his party is the result of ceaseless efforts of the Uri Party, whose survival depends on its plan to target the PK. There are some who say the Uri Party fed on his ambition of becoming the “CEO of ROK.” Now, betraying the expectations of voters who picked him for his party, Kim is resigning from his post before even finishing half of his four-year term. One has to wonder how the people of the South Gyeoungsang Province will judge this decision of Governor Kim.

Editorial Writer Hwang Ho-taek, hthwang@donga.com