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President Criticizes Korea’s Progressives

Posted February. 20, 2007 06:49,   


In an online newsletter of the presidential office titled, “The progressives should change,” on February 17, President Roh asked, “Do we have only progressives in Korea? I hope they change.”

He wrote the letter on February 11 before he paid a visit to Europe, but he disclosed it after the visit, concerned that it would trigger political debate.

He called on progressive parties to do some soul-searching, saying, “Every time we open our market, the progressive parties have always been worried that the market opening would deal a hard blow to our country but we actually made the opening a success for our economy. Today, the opening and our flexibility of labor is not a matter of ideology, but of effectiveness.”

In regard to the opposition of the progressives on the relocation of the USFK base in Pyeongtaek, he criticized their opposition, saying, “The USFK is leaving Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, which has been a long-cherished desire of the progressive wing. It is also a historic change, but some progressives are against the idea and put the government in a difficult position. They want U.S. forces out of the country, which is neither reasonable nor possible.”

In regard to his ideological inclination, he said, “I am not a neo-liberalist, but nether am I a leftist as the Grand National Party and some politicians argue that I am. I pursue progressive ideas, but I don’t agree with judging reality within the framework of an ideology or a dogma.” He added, “Some say I cost the progressive parties the next presidency. But winning an election is dependent on hard work. It is up to them and up to the people. It is an unreasonable opinion that I am responsible for the next presidency.”

Reflecting on the past, he said, “Once I had to study the so-called Yushin Constitution to pass the bar examination and felt ashamed. But the scholars who wrote the constitution made sure the principle of democracy was included in detail, which gave me an opportunity to study relativism, the basis of democracy.”