Go to contents

[Editorial] Public Sentiment Says, “Melt a Sword down into a Plowshare”

[Editorial] Public Sentiment Says, “Melt a Sword down into a Plowshare”

Posted August. 20, 2004 22:01,   


Complaints about the people’s economic plight and demands that politicians put their every effort into economic recovery came out at a debate forum “Debate Forum for Overcoming Economic Difficulties,” co-held by four opposition political parties, on Wednesday. The CEO of a mid-sized enterprise urged, “Sixty-five percent of small and mid-sized enterprises cannot survive three years. Melt the sword (which has been wielded in a political battle) down into a plowshare (to be used for production).”

This entrepreneur’s voice seems to represent the public sentiment, excluding the political circle and politicized interest groups who have engaged in power struggle and served their own political interests and groups that try to dismantle the structure of our nation. Even with numerous opinion polls which have revealed the sort of public sentiment, the government and the National Assembly, which would ignore the grass roots, would not be a participatory government and a people’s parliament.

While the government and the political circle could not properly cope with Chinese and Japanese attempts to extort the history, they still stick to a political battle on issues of the past century with obvious intentions of winning their own political games. They are even pushing forward the controversial capital relocation plans, which 60 percent of the people oppose, and causing social division and conflicts. The biggest victims in this battle are both the people’s livelihood and national competitiveness.

As some economic indicators are showing, the economy’s structural difficulties are so burdensome that it takes all the collaboration of people in every walk of life to overcome this hardship. It is true that Korea’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year has risen by 5.5 percent compared to the same time last year. Given that last year’s growth rate had only shown a 2.2 percent increase in the second quarter, 5.5 percent could not be a comforting result. Business sentiment that clearly represents private consumption fell by 0.7 percent, causing negative growth five quarters in a row. If this goes unchecked, the growth in consumption, investment, production, and employment will not be realized. Considering recent price hikes and skyrocketing oil price, we cannot help but notice the signs that stagflation—a period of high inflation, low growth, and high unemployment—would linger on for a long time.

Both the government and the ruling party cannot recover the economy with their short-term economic stimulation package while they are lingering on issues of the past century. They have to realize that the judgment of people who urged, “Melt a sword down into a plowshare” is still to come.