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President Roh Appeared on Radio Show

Posted November. 05, 2004 22:57,   


Appearing on an MBC radio program, “Woman Era,” for nearly two hours on Friday, President Roh Moo-hyun offered his opinion on grassroots’ struggles driven by recent economic difficulties.

He explained the cause of weak domestic demand, “In the process of recovering from the economic crisis in 1997, household debts have soared to 65 percent of the gross domestic product over the past three years.” He added, “Due to the surging unemployment rate and a rising number of people with bad credit records, consumption has yet been raised much thus far.”

“If it had not been for good export performance, the Korean economy would have almost prepared for the worst. With five percent growth anticipated, the problem is that the growth would not be equally distributed to the people,” he pointed out. “The remaining task is to narrow differences in wealth, which has polarized,” he said.

Mr. Roh repeated his hopeful view, saying, “It is true that the situation is very difficult. However, we have to hope for the best and can come up with solutions. Although the situation may not improve overnight, my country will not perish. It will even grow faster than any other nation in the end. Don’t worry.”

When told about a radio listener’s letter of a mom shedding tears when she found out that she could only prepare a shabby table for her baby’s one-year birthday with only 4,000 won due to her husband’s two-year long unemployment, the president could not finish his words and recalled, “My mother felt very sad about the fact that I wasn’t tall enough. She used to blame herself for not feeding me enough…”

“I have already read this story three times before the show. Every time, I became tearful. I assumed it would be okay if I read it before the show,” he said. “The boy whose mother felt sorry for became the President of Korea. We don’t know what’s going to happen to you. Let’s do our best,” he urged.

“If the president doesn’t understand people’s lives and agony, it would be a big problem. When you are marching as part of a military operation, a captain leads bands of soldiers. Meanwhile, staff of the personnel section follows the soldiers in an ambulance in order to take care of stragglers. As president, I would like to take the role of the staff of the personnel section,” he assured.

As he described the overpopulation problem in Seoul and its surrounding areas as “obesity,” he stressed, “It’s like you have kept promising yourself you need to go on a diet for the past 30 years. But you keep gaining weight. Since obesity causes a variety of diseases, we need to act now.”

When asked about the view that believes he tends to get himself into a slugout, he answered, “I can’t readily accept that view since it sounds like I don’t work diligently and like to bet on important issues.” Upon his retirement plan, he revealed, “I once thought if I retire from politics I would establish a political party on campus. However, since I realized debates and persuasions can hardly change situations, I have been rethinking my plan.”

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com