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[Editorial] Roh’s Speech at Independence Day Clings to the Past

[Editorial] Roh’s Speech at Independence Day Clings to the Past

Posted August. 15, 2004 22:10,   


It is to be regretted that the focus of President Roh Moo-hyun’s speech at a ceremony of the nation’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule was set to the past, rather than the future. President Roh, allowing the majority portion of his speech to his stress on the indispensability of investigation into past wrongdoings, said, “Not only pro-Japanese activities before the liberation from Japan, but also the violation of human rights and illegal acts committed by past authoritarian regimes, should be investigated.” In addition, President Roh suggested the establishment of a special commission within the National Assembly for the comprehensive investigation on the past wrongdoings

Of course, it is necessary to punish past evil acts. Nobody would refute his argument that by revealing truths having been disguised so far, we should take them as lessons for future development. However, it is not an urgent policy matter in which the president has to spearhead like this. The President and the political party, leaving this matter to relevant academia, should devote themselves to significant national pending issues.

Now, Korea is under total crisis. When it comes to coping with national affairs, we have few sectors that we rely on with the government’s direction. In particular, economic experts, both from local and overseas markets, have produced numerous pessimistic estimations over the Korean economy, saying that if the current economic situation continues, Korea’s economy will hit rock bottom. Recent surveys revealing that the majority of the population manages to live without hope might be related to such a dismal economic situation.

If the president was well aware of these circumstances, he should have delivered an optimistic message that indicated the causes of the crisis and suggested ways to overcome the crisis. However, by dismissing issues about economic recovery and the improvement of people’s livelihood, Roh only underlined the necessity of fighting against the past that precipitated the nation into dismay. In fact, business circles that had anticipated hopeful measures for economic recovery showed their disappointment after noticing that the speech was dominated by stress on investigations into the past.

Politicians’ duty is to stimulate the nation’s hopeful attitude and suggest a vision for the future. However, they are going back to the past and wasting national energy, which consequently causes national friction and the divergence of public opinion. We are wondering how long it will continue. President Roh said, “Let’s end the history of disruption.” However, now, these are the words the nation speaks to the president.