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[Editorial] We Can Open a Brighter Future by Building the National Foundation Again

[Editorial] We Can Open a Brighter Future by Building the National Foundation Again

Posted August. 15, 2005 03:05,   


Today marks the 60th anniversary of national independence. Since Korea became independent from Japanese colonial rule, the nation has laid the foundation to become a sovereign nation and achieved the twin goals of industrialization and democratization despite the tragic war and the national division. It was a tough but proud 60 years. The remarkable achievement Korea has made is unrivaled by any other developing and underdeveloped countries. This is something that all Koreans should be proud of.

But the future remains uncertain. The nation faces serious challenges as tensions are mounting in political, economical and social arenas. There is a troubling trend of defying and undermining the Korea-U.S. alliance which has contributed to easing concerns about the national security. The alliance has allowed the nation to build a democratic market economy, which has lifted the nation out of poverty, and to focus its energy on industrialization and economic development. As the government lacks the concrete vision to move the nation forward beyond democracy, politically motivated campaigns which undermine the nation by misleading people that punishment for past wrongdoings is a future strategy, prevail. Some even make it difficult to resolve the North Korea nuclear standoff, the biggest threat to national security, by turning a blind eye to the starvation and poor human rights record in the North and arguing their support for the Kim Jong Il regime is justified because we are “brethren.” Amid all the chaos, the national resources are being wasted and economic potential is being undermined.

We Should Take This Opportunity to Create Momentum-

We should build the national foundation once again. And we should advance toward a brighter future hand in hand. We should build a first-rate developed nation which is stronger and more prosperous. This is our mission.

Identity is one of the most fundamental issues not only for an individual but also for a nation. It is true that the tragic national division has made our independence incomplete. But we shouldn’t deny the roots of Korea. About 60 years ago, our ancestors aspired to achieve unification as well as independence, but achieving them both was impossible realistically amid the intense cold war waged by the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Some blamed pro-Japanese, pro-Americans, and anti-nationalists for missing the opportunity to build a unified government. But their argument is obviously far-fetched. Their arrogance and ignorance are inflaming the internal conflicts and division in Korea. Historical literature, which has made public so far in communist regimes, demonstrates that the Soviet Union decided to establish a regime in the North in September 1945 and the former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung followed the decision strictly.

The national division is something we should overcome eventually. But this should be done in a way that we can defend the free democracy and market economy at the same time. This is the way we can respect the universal value and survive. The hunger and horror caused by the deprivation of freedom, which the vast majority of North Koreans suffer, except for the handful of privileged people, tell us this truth eloquently. No other torture and crime against humanity are more gruesome than starving its own people to death.

Unification can’t be realized only by arguing for national independence. We should have the power to sustain a unified country. We should have diplomatic capacity to balance conflicts of interests of neighboring countries. The day of unification won’t come, if we hurt the relationships of goodwill and friendship which we will continue to rely on, and raise voices only for the cooperation between North and the South. Ignoring the nitty-gritty we face and shouting slogans against foreign allies are what can be called “anti-unification thought and conservatism.”

We should first address the conflict between supporters of industrialization and supporters of democratization. Either one can’t be achieved without the other. We couldn’t have democratized our nation if we had failed to industrialize it. We couldn’t have freedom and improved human rights if we had failed to democratize the nation. We should combine these two energies to make them serve as the driving force behind national development. It is deplorable that the incumbent administration is fanning conflicts by triggering verbal bickering over ideology and altering the mainstream. Pro-democratic groups are asserting that democracy is morally superior. But we need more than that to open the door to a brighter future. And even the previous democratic government eavesdropped on people.

The Government, Market and Civic Society Should Pool Their Wisdom to Find Ways for Peaceful Coexistence-

We should alleviate conflicts and unite our people. An alliance among the government, the market and the civic society is essential to achieving these goals. Without such an alliance, it is a tall order to stay ahead amidst global cutthroat competition. Long gone are the days when the government’s plan and drive alone could make things happen. The government’s role should be a good-will arbitrator, no matter how competent it is. It is especially so, for a government which is only good at populism but poor at national affairs management.

We can’t afford to rely entirely on the market. Establishing an optimal relationship between the market and the government remains one of the most difficult issues for the political economics to resolve. Rapid growth of civic society is one of the blessings industrialization and the democratization have brought to us. But we can’t expect civic society to solve all problems. Burgeoning irresponsible and politically motivated civic groups are regarded as an obstacle to realizing democracy and boosting the efficiency of the economy.

Three parties should find a way to coexist while recognizing each other’s roles and values and practice self-restraint. The rule of law can serve as the first link connecting three elements. It is troubling that some attack the constitution and go against the rule of law just because they don’t like it, even to the point that they undermine the foundation of the nation. When all people practice self-restraint, we can materialize an advanced democracy where any member can be assured to take part in the economic activity.