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“Now It’s the Livelihood of the People”

Posted April. 16, 2004 21:37,   


--Do Your Duty as a Lawmaker

Citizens and scholars, as well as both conservative and reformative civic groups, asked those elected in the general election “not to forget your duty as 17th lawmakers” in one voice.

A housewife, Cheong Yu-rye (42 years old, Noryangjin-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul) said, “My son, who is in his fifth grade in elementary school asked me whether the National Assembly is a place for fighting or not. I don’t want to see lawmakers fighting or throwing their shoes each other any more.” And a company employee, Lee Nam-hoon (31), said that “the collision between the party in power and the opposition party was mostly a fight for individual interests. If they have to fight, let them fight for a productive and matured aim.”

Another company employee, Kim Bu-kyoung (25, female), said that “I’m quite interested in how the current administration will run national affairs in a National Assembly where most lawmakers are from the party in power. They should not think it is a victory but should assume the affairs of state for the people.”

The head of bureau, Kim Ki-sik, of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy advised assemblymen to “compete outside the National Assembly, and now do what you should do.” He also said, “Never forget that people chose you in the hopes that you perform your duty obliged to you by the Constitution.”

Professor Seo Jin-young of the Department of Politics and Diplomacy at Korea University said that “this election is an opportunity for President Roh and the Uri Party as well as a burden. I expect them to conduct state affairs of tolerance and coexistence rather than ‘code politics,’ in which only people of the same code are employed, as they are being tested now in gaining the people’s confidence.”

Professor Kim Ho-ki of the Department of Sociology in Younsei University said, “The 17th Assembly should fill gaps between classes, generations and regions with leadership of integration and coexistence. The National Assembly has been unskilled in its original role of shaping the national vision and regulating conflicts so far.”

--To the Country Where People Can Live in Wealth

A fruit stall keeper, Kim Young-su (49), said “life becomes more of a struggle as the economy depresses more and more. I expect lawmakers to set up measures for a better life for the people and to give up fighting.” A company employee, Won Jong-kuk (33), wished that “the young can live comfortably and vigorously by the creation many jobs.”

Poet Kim Yong-taek (56, teacher of Deok-chi elementary school, Imsil, Jeollabuk-do) said, “I’m ashamed and feel uneasy. The new Assembly should set up policies which have clear characteristics, regardless of whether they are conservative or progressive, so that voters can choose to see them.”

A shoeshine man, Kim Hee-bong (45), asked assembly members to “look into the inside circumstances of the common people,” and said, “We common people are even afraid of children’s growth. In my case, I have to spend 12m won a year for two daughters who go to high school and university.

The head of bureau of Citizens United for Better Society, Cho Jung-keun, requested that assembly members should “unify divided public opinion as soon as possible and try to make the people devote themselves to their occupations.”

Park Won-tak of Duksung University asked the party in power “to try hard to make a society where more people can live better without vanity about their success,” and also pointed out that “what our society needs at this point is to increase the number of well-off people.”

--“Half Expectation and Half Anxiety”

There coexists both expectation and anxiety about the first-time entry into the Assembly of the Democratic Labor party (DLP), a progressive party.

Professor Kim Hyun-kyeun of the Department of Spanish of the Seoul National University said that “I expect the DLP will play a positive role in the National Assembly, where no one could speak out progressively before. I hope it will be a conduit for delivering diverse voices and representation for the underprivileged.”

A volunteer for traffic guidance, Lee Jong-su (43), pointed out that “Although I think the DLP’s entrance into the Assembly is quite encouraging, it might be better to care about ensuring its supporting classes.”

Meanwhile, there were conflicting opinions over the nature of the Assembly itself: some expect a speeding up of the participatory government’s reforms by one party gaining more than half seats of the Assembly, while others worry about its running alone.

A company employee, Im So-young (38, female), said that “I think the Uri party can stabilize the political situation and push reforms by gaining seats.” On the other hand, another company employee, Yoon So-yeon (30, female), said that “I am worrying about whether the party occupying more than half of the seats in the Assembly will drive the national administration in one direction.”

Yi-Young Cho Yang-Hwan Jung lycho@donga.com ray@donga.com