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[Editorial] December 19: Four Years Ago and One Year Later

[Editorial] December 19: Four Years Ago and One Year Later

Posted December. 19, 2006 03:01,   


On December 19, 2003, one year after the 16th presidential elections, President Roh Moo-hyun participated in the event “Remember December 19” held by his support group and encouragingly said, “The civil reforms are continuously underway. Please gather your forces again [in the general elections].” The trigger of the event was presidential impeachment, but the message still seems valid today to pro-Roh groups and the ruling party dreaming of the rebirth of his administration in the 17th presidential election, just a year before the big day.

However for the past four years, “Memories of December 19” to the public, who are sick and tired of the ills of the incompetent leftist, resonate through in a totally opposite manner. It merely serves as an opportunity to affirm the resolve of “now-is-the-time-for-us-to-act.”

The biggest determinant of the presidential victory four years ago was then candidate Roh’s pledge on relocation of the administrative capital, his reckless attack on his opponent Lee Hwe-chang, and other negative campaigns. However, his pledge on the capital transfer, just as he himself had said, “I gained much from it,” was pushed forward without much preparation or thought. It turned out that the “three major scandals” including the suspected military draft-dodging of Lee’s son were political maneuvering. In addition, another pledge on creating 2.5 million new jobs ended up as “empty rhetoric.” As a result of the below potential growth rate (of five percent) and anti-market policies curbing corporate investment, the number of jobless youths has reached 530,000. Worse, his pledge on “Northeast Asian Hub” has been completely ignored.

Then candidate Roh was very much supported by “the leftist 386 code” (in 386 generation – three refers to people in their 30s in the 1990s, eight to the 1980s when they were enrolled at universities, and six to the 1960s when they were born) being progressive and radical. He kept saying, “What’s wrong with being anti-American?” and “As long as the inter-Korean relationship goes well, other issues can be totally ignored,” implying that he would go for “selling with anti-Americanism” in the name of self-sovereignty. Regarding the leftist activities of his father-in-law, he tried to appeal to emotion, saying, “Do you want me to dump my wife?” Not one of them has been fully verified.

As a consequence, disastrous results ended up being presented to the public such as economic collapse, semi-disruption of the Korea-U.S. alliance, and collapse of the national legitimacy and morale. Once again, the ruling power is about to have a deja vu from four years ago with “a political realignment surprise,” anti-American sales tactics, populist pledges, and negative campaigns. Meanwhile, the Grand National Party seems prepared to pour in populist pledges catering to the public. A recent example of this is its recent agreement to adopt the price cap system for new apartments built by private companies.

“Remember December 19” should not be the rhetoric of supporters of President Roh trying to revive their victory four years ago but instead a slogan raising renewed awareness among the public. The fate of Korea depends on whether or not a new presidential leader is elected to carry on with advancing Korea into the global standards beyond industrialization and democratization on December 19 next year.