Go to contents

[Opinion] A Reality Check for President Roh

Posted November. 05, 2005 03:02,   


It seems that, the Internet has become an integral part of everyday life for Koreans. Quite a few Korean netizens say they feel uneasy if they skip logging on to the Internet for even a day to read online bulletin boards and post replies online.

Shortly after the report by Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Man-su that no parasite eggs had been found in kimchi served in Cheong Wa Dae was released on the Internet, a number of Internet users posted their writings. Their replies included: “So, does that mean the public has been eating kimchi that has parasites in it while the president has been eating kimchi that is parasite-free?” and “It would have been much better for Cheong Wa Dae not to make any remark at all. I don’t understand why it is inviting criticism by saying so.”

President Roh Moo-hyun is also a Korean netizen who likes to post his opinions online. He recently posted a reply to an article titled: “The Korean Economy Has Started to Recover” on “News Briefing,” a website that promotes government policies. The president replied to the article, saying, “This is such a good article that I feel like sharing this with others. Do you offer a mailing service or something for this article?” He also expressed his regret by saying, “I had difficulty reading series articles fast because I, as a reader, could not separate them by themes or media.”

President Roh’s keen interest in the Internet is keeping Cheong Wa Dae officials busy.

Lee Baek-man, deputy manager of the Government Information Agency, posted an article titled: “Studying President Park Jeong-hee’s policy model is like studying for a university entrance exam, while President Roh’s paradigm is like studying your major,” on News Briefing.

More recently, an economic aide to the president, Jeong Moon-soo, expressed his opinion in an article on the website of Cheong Wa Dae as follows: “President Roh knows the economic situation of Korea better than anyone else. He really does not like to simply present a list of grand plans without making any serious efforts to carry them out.”

Cho Ki-sook, Cheong Wa Dae’s chief public affairs secretary, is another government official who likes to post articles on the Cheong Wa Dae homepage.

To draw an analogy, the posters look like concubines competing with one another to win the heart of a man. At a glance, a Korea seen online appears to be a country that is enjoying a fortunate and happy age.

On November 3, the World Bank lowered the projected economic growth rate of Korea for this year to 3.8 percent and projected the number for 2006 to be 4.6 percent. It predicted the growth rate would increase up to 9.3 percent this year and 8.7 percent next year. It is doubtful whether this report will be posted on News Briefing as well, and if the president will express his opinion on it.

One netizen refuted the president’s reply to the article: “The Korean Economy Has Started to Recover” by saying, “Why don’t you come out to see the situation the public is in first-hand, instead of reading articles that please you? Here outside your office, you will see the dire reality of the public livelihood.”

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com