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[Editorial] Korea’s Future

Posted April. 01, 2006 03:00,   


Korea cannot stop here. Regression is out of the question. We should construct an advanced Korea by looking toward the future. Depending on our actions, the world may be either with us or against us. Will we leap forward once again, or will we stall here?

Korea and Koreans are at a crossroads. That is why the Dong-A Ilbo is taking this moment on our 86th anniversary to think about the country’s future and the role of the media.

Upon consideration, Korea has achieved greatness. It had attained industrialization and democracy. It has the 12th largest economy in the world, and it is negotiating with the U.S. on free trade agreements. We should not chastise ourselves in face of these accomplishments or degrade the contributions of our seniors.

The “miracle of the Han River” is evidence of the power of liberal democracy and the market economy. The former development-centered totalitarian regime had once cast a shadow on the freedom of our citizens, but it served as groundwork for the exemplary revival and growth of a liberal democracy. The merits of South Korea’s choice are blatantly evident when compared with the North, where its citizens cannot even meet the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

But we have undergone tribulations by embracing freedom and the market. Through globalization, competing states have been racing toward freedom, responsibility, and the market economy, but Korea’s clock seems to be ticking backwards.

We should raise our flags for freedom and market economy. It is only through this that self-subsistence is possible by increasing individual competitiveness and maximizing state competitiveness. By hiding in a back room with no regard for global trends and holding each other back with the words “let’s live together and die together,” we will not be able to exist together.

For more than half a century it was the Korean-U.S. alliance that ensured security and prosperity because we shared the values of freedom and market economy. In the current Northeast Asian political climate that foretells the clash of the major powers as evidenced by China’s sudden rise and Japan’s military expansion, there are no other value and alliance such as those we have upheld in the past.

Korean peninsula relations should also head towards the expansion of freedom and market economy. Why are we aiding the North? It is to allow them to breathe freedom, and to acknowledge the value of the market. This is the only way to allow our fellow Koreans in the North to live as human beings. Though some flexibility and changes are needed in our policy towards North Korea, we should not change our position. We reject the people and the unification that goes against freedom and market economy.

Our nation can’t become a developed country with an anti-market ideology. The annual economic growth that only amounted to 3.9 percent during the past three years was the result of anti-market policies and behavior. By pushing the society into a “battlefield of 20-80,” a misguiding form of politics intending to make 80 (percent) happy by misappropriating from 20 (percent), we will not be able to end the vicious cycle of a low growth rate and poverty. The current trend will not only lead to deindustrialization, but also to a disaster resulting from hollowing-out of funds and human resources.

Liberalism originated from the ideals to stop the state from exercising self-determining power. It was intended to minimize state interference. Democracy is also intended to do the same, and the original form of liberalism will not be altered even with the change of times. “Small government” and “Departure from regulations” are our goals. Politics and the government should also strive for these goals. Interfering into people’s affairs and creating division, issuing populist policies, and stifling the market with a variety of regulations are evils that are undifferentiated from the totalitarian regime of our past.

It is correct that the Zeitgeist indicates that certain sectors of government duties should be replaced by the role of the citizen society. But that action should also entail maturity. The people should not threaten the rule of law or deconstruct the rules of the society. A society in which the loudest wins, and where one can get one’s own way only with a sharper sword is not a society in which rationality flourishes but rather one in which barbarity thrives. This should also be an enemy to the path towards development.

Role divisions and harmonization between the government, private sector, and social sector are direly needed. We can achieve an advanced Korea by assuming our roles and taking responsibility for our duties. Dong-A Ilbo will strive to meet these goals. We will not cave in to the obstacles in protecting liberal democracy and market economy. We will not avoid the enemies to development. Your trust and encouragement will serve to empower us.