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[Opinion] Chief of Staff’s Political Remark

Posted December. 12, 2006 06:56,   


Lee Byung-wan, the president’s chief of staff, stated the reason why Korea cannot be considered as an advanced country is “press politics” and “political press” in his letter to the employees of the office of the president. He said at the end of last year during his conversation with the employees that “there is no counter evidence, so Korea is an advanced country.” The chief of staff should not double as a commentator. Since he makes contradictory remarks, he cannot be a commentator anyway.

Lee also criticized the controversy around nominating Jeon Hyo-sook for chief of the Constitutional Court, paralleling it with the Dreyfus Affairs in France, saying, “The opposition is vetoing a minority liberal female candidate from Jeolla Province.” He seemed to have forgotten the cases of violation of the Constitution, distortion of rules, nomination of favored person, and incompetence in the process of nominating the judge of the Constitutional Court with three remaining years in tenure. Lee is trying to hide his own mistakes and treat the controversy as if it is the case of discrimination against the minority.

Lee mentioned the dinner meeting between a journalist and a politician as the cozy relationship between politics and the press. Then, is he saying that he entered Cheong Wa Dae after having cozy relations with politicians whenever he had meals with them? He has worked for the current and former presidents after participating in a campaign trail for a presidential candidate in the past, which means he is the prime example of the link between the politics and the press based on his assertion. Contrary to his criticism against “vetoing the female candidate,” Lee was the one who had said lamentably, “Critics rebuked only the hands of the drunk representative who did not remember the night,” and “The cozy relations require both sides,” on the sexual harassment that female journalists suffered. The representatives were brought to justice after the female journalists accused them. Lee should apologize for his remark to the journalists and all women.

Korea has failed to join in the rank of advanced countries not because of “political press” but because of government failure and the government’s press policies. Korea cannot be regarded as an advanced country if the government continues to subsidize the pro-administration newspaper with taxpayers’ money; the government sets up state-owned distribution agency for pro-ruling party newspaper; the chief of the staff criticizes the newspaper with critical viewpoint. In this situation, reviving the economy and becoming an advanced nation seems to be a mere dream.

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com