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[Opinion] An Outsider

Posted October. 24, 2007 08:12,   


“False Acacia trees fail to grow in a forest with other trees. Instead they grow in groups in a destroyed area. Once the trees form a group, they create an exclusive society. When they create a forest, they slip out of the group like a negative outsider.” This is a quote from “The outsider’s reasons for existence” by Dr. Cha Yun-jeong, a forest and ecology expert.

If False Acasia trees are considered to be negative outsiders, Lindera Erythrocarpa Makino trees are considered positive ones. They serve as a bridge until enough Mongolian oak grows to create a forest. Dr. Cha says, ”The difference between False Acasia and Lindera erythrocarpa is that the latter, as an home-grown outsider, is properly checked and helps in the creation of a forest. If an outsider wants to become an indispensable insider, not the target of eviction, it needs to contribute to the overall development of a forest.”

In a joint column of the Far Eastern Economic Review this month, David Kang of Dartmouth University and Hwang Min-hwa of the National Taiwan University defined South Korea’s Roh Moo-hyun administration and Taiwan’s Chen Shui-bian administration as “the first outsider administrations in their history”. They said that both administrations are from outside of the traditional order. Like many outsiders-turned-insiders, Roh and Chen formed an exclusive group, creating an enemy. Indeed, a supporter of President Roh argued, “We should start as an outsider and reverse the mainstream as an insider.” It sounds like False Acacia tree talk, though.

Professors Kang and Hwang said the political future of the two countries is brighter than many people expect. They pointed out that voters began to choose policies over a leader’s personality or leadership style. If the ‘outsider tree’ analogy is drawn, the core of Roh administration might be more like a False Acacia. However, since Koreans came to realize the side effects of False Acacias, Korea’s future may not be bad after all.

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