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Unique Difference of Viewpoint Related To Regional Origins

Unique Difference of Viewpoint Related To Regional Origins

Posted June. 02, 2004 20:51,   


“Let’s see what will come out when you sit up all night gambling. The “essence” part has already gone, and you will quarrel over small amounts of coins with the others.”

This is the representative illustration of President Roh when he explains his regional viewpoint. The “essence” points out the metropolitan area of Seoul, and the remainder refers to other countryside areas such as Youngnam, Honam, and Chungcheong. That is, argument over the other places is useless because all the best developments are grouped together in the Seoul metropolitan area. Roh’s nationwide balanced-growth theory also originates from this point of view.

However, the reality is different. National budget and relevant personnel are limited, and regional sentiments in each district are different from that of the others. Like the distinctive differences of opinion between the assemblymen and women from the Youngnam and Seoul areas in Grand National Party, there are clear disparities even in the Open Uri Party among the Youngnam, Honam, and Chungcheong areas, which openly advocate the liquidation of profound regional rancor. That is because of the relationship of interests.

At Chong Wa Dae, personnel from Youngnam are currently prevailing over others. Among the 53 officials higher than the secretary class, 27 people are from the Youngnam area, that comprises fifty-one percent of the whole, more than half. Among those Youngnam areas, Busan, Ulsan, and Kyungnam comprise thirty-eight percent, or 20 people. On the other hand, only 10 people from Honam area have been so employed, forming 19 percent of the whole.

On the other hand, the Uri Party does not have that many people from the Youngnam area itself. In the Youngnam area, only four people were elected in the latest 17th General Election. Among the party members from Honam area, the standouts are the unofficially decided Parliamentary Speaker, Kim Won-ki, the former Uri Party’s leader, Jung Dong-young, and the floor leader of the Uri Party, Chun Jung-bae.

These reasons raise the problem of appointing Rep. Kim Hyuk-kyu for the next prime minister as a latent factor of conflict between the people from Youngnam and Honam areas in the ministerial party. Among the assemblymen and women from Honam area, not a few people have negative viewpoints against the fact that “the President and prime minister are both from the Youngnam area.” On the other hand, people from Youngnam area face this criticism head on, stating, “What about Parliamentary Speaker Kim and Floor Leader Chun?”

It is same for the case of the “Youngnam development special committee,” which has been cancelled by the executive members of the party. Though the people from Daegu and Kyungbuk area who failed to win the election requested this in order to organize a passageway of conversation between them and the party, it was shoved off by the theory of main tide with the comment, “Any special committee for the development of certain areas should not be permitted.”

At the party of elected assemblymen and women of Open Uri Party and Executive party members, which was held at Chong Wa Dae on May 29, this problem was discussed. As one of the executive members of the party, Roh In-su raised a problem, stating that “in recent times, the press has reported the Youngnam Development Special Committee and promotion of the people from the Youngnam area. We should be careful about wording.” Then another executive member, Lee Chang-yong from the Youngnam area, remarked, “Please give extra consideration to us to make a firm foundation in the unpopular regions like the Youngnam area rather than regarding it as form of discrimination.”

People from Chungcheong area are very cynical about the war of nerves taking place between Youngnam and Honam. Though they are satisfied that the ministerial party is supporting the case of transfer of capital, they assert that they are extensively suffering from discrimination in personnel affairs. “Having appointed the president, prime minister, and parliamentary speaker from the Youngnam and Honam areas, our party does not have any person from the Chungcheong area in important seats. The party should carefully show its concern by selecting people from the Chungcheong area to join in the cabinet,” said an assemblyman from the Chungcheong area.

Young-Chan Yoon yyc11@donga.com