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[Editorial] Meaningful Independence

Posted August. 15, 2006 03:13,   


Amid unprecedented chaos, we are celebrating the 61st national Independence Day and the 58th anniversary of national establishment today. National identity is harshly attacked and national security comes under close scrutiny nowadays. Before our predecessors who devoted themselves to independence, modernization and democratization of this country, we should be ashamed of ourselves to drive such country into chaotic situation like today. How could such a thing happen?

We should remind ourselves of the past significance of national independence and establishment of this country. Despite the cruel oppression of the Japanese colonial rule, our predecessors achieved national independence and founded the Republic of Korea after wisely dealing with the post-independence national disorder period (1945~1948).

On August 15, 1948, with United Nations’ approval, the Republic of Korea was founded as a single legitimate government on the Korean peninsula and held a general election under the inspection of the United Nations. Our choice has been proved to be right. We have pursued a market economy under the principle of liberal democracy, which helped us to achieve economic miracles and Korea became one of the top 10 economically powerful countries in the world. It just took 40 years.

The ideological conflict and division we are experiencing nowadays comes from people’s attitude of not accepting the past achievement. A distorted perception that views South Korea as an incomplete government which was simply established by Rhee Syng-man with the support of the United States and North Korea is a legitimate government founded by national patriots caused people’s irrational attitudes that are noticed today, such as advocating the North’s missile launches and protesting against the expansion plan of the U.S. Camp in Pyeongtaek. It is very necessary now to correct such distortions.

Historical records already revealed that Kim Il Sung founded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in September 1945 under the direction of Stalin. Bruce Cumings, one of representative revisionists and a professor of Chicago University in the U.S., said recently in an interview with the local press on the Korean War, “According to confidential records of the Soviet Unions that were recently opened to the public, Stalin intervened in the Korean War much more than I thought.”

The Roh Moo-hyun government seems to be reluctant to accept the achievement of past and looks down on their legitimacy. President Roh frequently said, “There was no justice and only opportunists survived. This is very shameful,” and called for the correction of wrongdoing in the past. Since President Roh Moo-hyun came to office, almost all of protests have been rooted in anti-Americanism and national self-defense, which must have something to do with Roh’s perspectives on history.

It is also often noticed that youths are easily exposed to such ideological distortions. The situation is so serious that senior historians lately declared that they will make correct history textbooks for high school students. Despite this, the president still aggressively responds by saying, “What is wrong with anti-Americanism? We should consider that America can make mistakes.”

Even though President Roh said, “Self-defense is authentic defense,” we can’t guarantee national peace and safety only through self-defense. North Korea is not only a partner to talk to, but also a foe to fight. Reconciliation and cooperation with the North is important, of course. However, more important is national security. It is extremely risky to say we have stable national security while ignoring the alliance with the U.S.

Leaving beyond unreasonable geniality to North Korea, we should have a discussion about how to place the U.S. alliance and project a new role of U.S. troops stationed in Korea with the consideration of the new order in Northeast Asia after unification on the Korean peninsula.

China’s power is rapidly increasing now and Japan is moving fast to strengthen its defense power. We should give a thought about who can be the best partner to secure the safety of Korea and to keep the peace in this region. National cooperation is not the answer to this matter.

The lack of confidence in the legitimacy of this country ends up causing social instability. Dividing people into parties is one example. The wealthy are often regarded as conservative and sometimes reckless followers of U.S. directions. When the transfer of wartime operational control provoked controversy lately, the wealth was condemned even as those who fight against national unification. People should know that even major pro-North Koran activists admit that national unification can be possible 30 or 50 years later.

Ideologically distorted eyes can’t correctly evaluate political policies and law enactments. Because of this, precise policies to improve people’s livelihoods and suggesting a vision for future development in this country are rarely seen, and there are few political action plans based on fact and evidence.

While wasting time for ideological conflicts, the economic condition is getting worse than anytime before. Chronic economic stagnation is haunting economic growth nowadays. Even though it is only answered to settle such problems to relax economic restrictions and offer economic-friendly environments, people are obsessed with ideological disputes now. The protests of trade unions and left-wing activities are getting violent. Despite this, law enforcement, whose role is to maintain social order, just responds in accordance with the level of protesters’ moves.

We have to take actions to overcome this situation. It is about time to champion the market economy and liberal democracy again by restoring our energy witnessed through our modernization and democratization effort. We should escape from the hermetic situation obsessed with self-defense and overcome anxiety and animosity created by politicians. We should restore the health of this society and stop the deterioration of this country with national power and intelligence. This is responsibility of contemporaries. This is also a way to revive our spirit shown during national independence and establishment in the past.