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[Opinion] Roh Force One

Posted January. 20, 2007 04:59,   


Air Force One, the presidential plane of the United States, represents the power of the U.S. and the authority of the American president. It is called the flying White House. No wonder the press mocked British Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying “Blair Force One,” when he expressed his desire for such a plane. The movie titled “Air Force One” starring Harrison Ford was a big hit. Nike released a line of shoes called “Air Force One,” priced at two million won per pair.

While receiving the chairman of the Boeing Company, President Roh Moo-hyun complained, “I always fly on Boeing planes, but when I suggested that we buy a presidential plane, the National Assembly cut the budget.” This comment stirred up opposition parties, which are saying, “The remark insulted both the National Assembly and the people.” Netizens are attacking the president using expressions that are too harsh to be repeated here. Since the president criticized his own country in front of the chairman of Boeing, the symbol of the American military-industrial complex, it is certainly quite unseemly regardless of the circumstances.

We do have a presidential plane of our own. But compared to “Air Force One,” which can fly one third of the Earth’s circumference (12,600 kilometers) without refueling and is equipped with cutting edge weapons like missile interception systems, it is shabby. It is an older model introduced in 1985, and will go out of use in 2010. Its short flying radius allows it to fly only to nearby countries such as China and Japan. So Cheong Wa Dae hires chartered planes from Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. But the presidential office complains that it is more economic to buy a new presidential plane, according to a comparison of rental expenses and new aircraft purchasing expenses.

President Roh is displeased, saying, “It’s not even for me. It’s for the next president, so I don’t know why everybody is against it.” Even if preparations to adopt a new presidential plane begin right away, it won’t be able to be used until 2010. Former president Kim Dae-jung had also planned the budget to replace the presidential helicopter at the end of his term but was turned down. Cheong Wa Dae had appealed that “It’s not for us,” but to no avail. Perhaps President Roh is more upset, thinking of the opposing public opinion regarding the constitutional amendment which is also for the next president.

Kim Chang-hyeok, Editorial Writer, chang@donga.com