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[Opinion] Kim Byong-joon’s “Bubble Gum”

Posted July. 05, 2005 02:28,   


During World War II, a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese troops on December 7, 1941 shocked not only the United States but the rest of the world as well. After the attack, then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation to “remember Pearl Harbor,” saying, “December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy.” This statement brought the nation together and led to the solidarity of the world’s free countries. When trust is present, a leader’s words can have more power than any weapon. This is probably why the higher a position, the more discreet his speech should be.

Recently, Chief of the Presidential Policy Office Kim Byong-joon, who is a Cheong Wa Dae advisor of ministerial caliber, referred to Korea Railroad’s alleged investment in an oil development project and Korea Highway Corporation’s Haengdamdo development project as “bubble gum cases.” Denying Cheong Wa Dae’s involvement in the two cases, he was targeting the media when he said, “They are blowing up the cases like bubble gum to make them seem as if Cheong Wa Dae is behind them; such an act will have baneful effects on the future of the nation.” Recently President Roh Moo-hyun has been said to have “received a fatal blow” due to these two cases, and this seems to be an excuse from his advisor.

The oil investment case is one in which both the ruling and opposition parties agreed to introduce an independent counsel system since the public prosecutor’s unsatisfactory investigation was being put to question. Regarding the Haengdamdo development project, even the Board of Audit and Inspection admitted to the “inappropriate involvement” of the former chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative Moon Chung-in, former Presidential Secretary of Personnel Affairs Jeong Chan-yong, former Presidential Secretary of National Economy Jeong Tae-in, and other Cheong Wa Dae officials. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has placed a foreign travel ban on 25 presidential secretaries including Jeong Tae-in, and investigation is still continuing. With all this going, how could the word “bubble gum cases” come up? Are the independent counsel and public prosecutors to do nothing but remove the air from the “bubble gum?”

Even when the nation was hot with the administrative capital issue, Kim Byong-joon had attacked the opposing forces, saying, “I cannot remove the thought that those who have initiated or supported the impeachment of the president are opposing the transfer of the administrative capital.” This was directly after President Roh had said that “movements opposing the transfer are movements for the president’s resignation.” If a presidential policy chief of staff who is a former scholar indulges in attacking oppositions and making excuses instead of speaking about policies, it is only natural that the government loses credit. The current president and his advisors are unusually controversial with what they say.

Song Dae-keun, Editorial writer, dksong@donga.com