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[Editorial] Why did the President Invite the Sun & Moon Chairman?

[Editorial] Why did the President Invite the Sun & Moon Chairman?

Posted December. 18, 2003 23:14,   


President Roh won the presidential election exactly one year ago today. It would have been nice if the day called for a one-year anniversary ceremony with the people applauding his performance over the past year, but the reality is very different.

With several of his aides being investigated by the prosecution or arrested for corruption suspicions such as alleged illegal election funding, cynics are asking, “Does he have any aides who are not corrupt?” This time, people are shocked by the news that President Roh had dinner with Moon Byung-wook, chairman of the Sun & Moon Group, at Cheong Wa Dae. Who is Moon? He is the very man alleged to have passed on illegal funding to the president’s “386” aides (people who are in their 30s, attended university in the 1980s and were born in the 1960s) including Lee Kwang-jae, Ahn Hee-jung, and Yeo Taek-soo, and asked for tax cuts. The prosecution is investigating whether or not President Roh’s invitation was reciprocal to Moon’s funding support during the presidential elections.

If so, it is only reasonable to conclude that they are more than just graduates of the same high school. President Roh must reveal details of his dinner invitation and be scrutinized by the prosecution. “I am close to him (Moon), but I did not accept much of his help” is not enough to resolve suspicions. The president’s report card on his first 10 months of running the country, assessed by 10 social activist groups including the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, was rated as “fail.” The leading party is split into two, with hostilities between the leading and the opposing party growing, and the people’s worries are increasing as economic indicators point lower. The social conflicts that erupted regarding building a nuclear waste storage facility in Buan, North Cholla Province, the cargo workers’ strike, and the troop dispatch to Iraq raise serious doubt regarding the Roh government’s ability to run the nation.

Moreover, the president himself furthered the nation’s instability by making statements such as “I can’t perform my presidential duties,” or announcements regarding a national referendum and political retirement. Yet, he mostly blamed others such as the opposition party and the press instead of himself. This is why there are harsh criticisms that his first year seems like his last year of the term.

Still, Cheong Wa Dae insists that “Korea is changing.” It persists that the administration is changing from “closed-door decisions to systematic decisions, centralization to autonomy and decentralization, resolute politics to politics of dialogue and compromise, and rulings based on human relations to rulings based on law” (December 2 edition of newsletter ‘Cheong Wa Dae Briefing’). Is that truly the case?

President Roh must engrave the lessons he learned over the past year in his mind. He must first truthfully confess his wrongdoings regarding his aides’ corruption and the illegal funding scandal, and ask for the people’s forgiveness. He must break away from his code-awareness and excessive competitiveness that undermine integration. Clearing up his attitude regarding the referendum and political retirement is a must. President Roh still has four years and two months of his term left.