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[Opinion] “Roh Moo-hyun’s Interview Model”

Posted June. 15, 2007 09:26,   


Once again, President Roh Moo-hyun has succeeded in “making news.” He did so in an interview with the daily paper Hankyoreh, which is the newspaper President Roh gave his first interview to after he was elected in order to “thank the paper for helping him get elected.” Presidents and prime ministers of a country are its most important newsmakers. In a country where freedom of speech is guaranteed, they almost always make appearances in the news on a daily basis because what they say and what they do have a great impact on people’s lives. But never has there been a time when the remarks of a president whose days in office are numbered have been used for a subject of news stories so often.

Ever since President Roh took office, he has divided the press into two categories: accommodating or hostile. He then has responded to them by giving either “sticks” or “carrots.” Cheong Wa Dae interviews have been awarded press that he thinks are favorable to him. However, interviews of the president with the press are a channel for the president to indirectly communicate with the public. Therefore the more Roh has wanted to reach the people, the more interviews he should have had with the press, but that has not been the case. For the past four years, for example, he has never accepted an interview with the daily newspaper Chosun.

Whenever he is being interviewed, he talks longer than planned. The interview with Hankyoreh today was one hour longer than scheduled. He talked so much that what he said could be published in a medium-length novel. Maybe he simply has a lot to talk about. He puts a lot of effort into writing a script, too. Sometimes he writes it himself, and if he does not like the script, he rewrites it many times before he finally approves it. During his speech at the “Administration Assessment Forum” he said, “I wrote the script. I wrote it until midnight last night and modified at 12:10 today which was only a few minutes ago.”

In his interviews or speeches he uses inappropriate or spontaneous words such as “bundle politics,” “muckraker” or “that damn constitution.” Because of the lack of class the president’s remarks carry, Ko Un, a renowned poet, even once said, “The language used by President Roh is not the language of a nation’s president.” President Roh’s remarks mark the beginning of a series of controversy and conflicts. A ruling party official who was a former press secretary at Cheong Wa Dae said off the record, “The president’s words should be the last words.” He means that because his words are the result of an ultimate decision, they should be spoken in a very careful manner. President Roh should heed this advice.

Kwon Soon-taek, Editorial Writer, maypole@donga.com