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[Editorial] Stop Divisiveness and Drifting. Complete National Independence.

[Editorial] Stop Divisiveness and Drifting. Complete National Independence.

Posted August. 13, 2004 22:06,   


Come the 59th Liberation Day, we are tinged with mixed feelings. At least this should have been a day when we can talk about a new hope for the future with proud feelings of achievements and reaffirm our resolution of “Let’s work hard again.” However, the reality does not allow us to do so. History is denied. The identity of the regime is clouded with doubts. The feelings of crisis are widespread that this country will eventually crumble.

What prescriptions would President Roh Moo-hyun offer in his speech marking the Liberation Day that falls tomorrow. Will he be able to rekindle national confidence that has moved us to sweat to build a new fatherland with the joy of liberation and to achieve modernization and democratization during a short period of time that is unprecedented in world history?

Then, the historical consciousness of the rulers should change first. They must break with the belief that the current disorder and conflict is due to the failure in correcting the wrongs of history. History can give lessons, but it can’t be denied or deleted. The use of history as criteria for the ally versus the enemy will be bound to engulf conflict and confrontation.

The legitimate identity of the regime should be clarified. Modernization and democratization are the achievements of the Republic of Korea, which came into being in 1948 after winning liberation in 1945. National division was a tragedy. In a narrow political and economic space constrained by the division, we have solved the basic bread-and-butter issue and achieved political freedom. Along the way, we have confirmed that the identity of this country lies with liberal democracy and the free-market economy. However, with the current regime in power, conflict over national identity has risen. It has gotten to the point that some calls the regime left-leaning. Concerns about the political system, the economy, and the national fate are bound with doubts about the regime’s identity.

On last year’s Liberation Day, President Roh promised to build the foundation for a self-reliant national defense, to further reaffirm the Korea-U.S. alliance, and to bring about national unity and innovation in order to achieve the goal of a per capita GDP of $20,000. However, a majority of the public cannot pin their hopes on or place their beliefs in any of these promises. Cuts in the number of the U.S. Forces in Korea have begun. Concerns about the future of the Korea-U.S. alliance and ways to get resources for self-reliant national defense are not solved yet. The economy has worsened, further demoralizing such economic actors as corporations and households. Expectations for a $20,000 GNP are still illusionary.

The public gave a new opportunity to President Roh and the ruling party as it gave a majority of seats in the National Assembly when they were cornered by the impeachment crisis. However, they have changed nothing. Their sole interest lies in the things of the past. They are still bent on pursuing their political interest by dividing us, not unifying us. They are squandering their energy, which they should use to open up a new destiny of the country, in “chastising” and “reversing things.”

The opposition party is disappointing, too. The Grand National Party, the largest opposition party, is failing to offer a responsible alternative. The GNP’s lack of a party-wide position regarding the government plans for capital relocations and its attempts to detect how the political wind blows regarding the plans have summed us up. In that way, the GNP won’t be seen as an alternative that reclaims power. It should rid itself of an inertia that makes it seek advantages only from its rival’s faults.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of national liberation. If the country becomes further divided and stranded, it will slide into serious stagnation. An irreversible free-fall may well be our fate. Our rival countries are well ahead of us. China’s attempts to gloss over the history of Goguryo are a testament to the toughness of the state we currently are in and the future path we should break. It is not time to hound bygones and dividing the country on “a political code.”

The leadership for reconciliation and unity is needed to bring the country together as one. This is the mandate of the history which has once been marred by the deprivation of sovereignty by Japanese militarists as a result of a divided and squabbling national leadership, the ignorance of international political currents, the distrust of the public among rulers, and an incompetent and corrupt government.

Every single countryman and woman from the president down should open their minds and start to complete the liberation. The liberation ended in a tragedy of national division. What is worse, we lost many things to regional acrimony, ideological, and generational conflicts. It is time to shake the conflicts and start anew. We cannot crumble.