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[Opinion] Imsil-gun’s Mayor

Posted July. 09, 2007 03:03,   


Former President Kim Dae-jung has a mixed feeling of love and hate toward voters. This was especially true of farmers in Gyeongsang Province.

The policy of “debt relief for farmers” was Kim’s trademark campaign pledge ever since he was a presidential candidate of the New Democratic Party in 1971. Farmers in Gyeongsang Province enthusiastically cheered when they heard Kim’s campaign pledges, but did not cast votes for Kim. “Oh, my goodness! I was fool to enter politics and to place my trust in those people,“ Kim lamented before boarding a plane to the U.K. after retiring from politics in 1992.

Although one may argue Kim brought that on himself, what is certain is that there have been endless disputes and debates over “public judgment” from the moment when democracy and elections were invented. The election is often referred to as the flower of democracy. However, Lily Tomlin, an American writer and author, said, “Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It`s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then--we elected them.”

Perhaps democracy is destined to be shrouded by the controversy.

People in Imsil-gun, North Jeolla Province recently began to criticize themselves, saying, “We are ashamed of electing a wrongful mayor.” Kim Jin-eok, the mayor of Imsil, was sentenced last Thursday to a five-year prison term on charges of demanding 200 million won from a construction company in return for granting a construction project. He brings the number of mayors elected by popular vote but arrested for receiving bribes to three out of five. It must be very frustrating for residents in Imsil-gun.

Kim was elected in a by-election, which was held because his predecessor was convicted on charges of taking bribes. According to a financial report that Kim submitted as a mayoral candidate of the by-election, he had a debt of 2.4 billion won. His campaign pledges were also filled with pork-barrel projects.

The voters of Imsil-gun should have been more careful in choosing their representative. There is a saying that there is no use repenting one’s missed chances. The presidential election has only five months left to go. Although mayors can be replaced by by-elections, a president cannot be replaced during his tenure unless he or she is impeached or found guilty of insurrection or treason. There is no use of lamenting the election of an unqualified president.

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