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[Opinion] Learned Man and Merchant

Posted November. 16, 2007 03:03,   


When discussing the qualities of a political leader, former president Kim Dae-jung (DJ) often emphasized ‘the critical point of view of the learned and the realistic sense of a merchant.’ A politician ought to have both a learned man’s trite justification and a merchant’s realistic eye. It’s quite an impressive metaphor which weighs the harmonization of ideals and reality in politics. But never had DJ mentioned such a metaphor with more emphasis on the learned man’s critical point of view. In most cases merchants’ realistic sense was emphasized more.

He maintains the same attitude to this day. In an interview with Ohmynews yesterday, he said, “Ruling party circles should take a full and uncompromising run at the presidential election. The unification of political parties would be preferable, but if that’s too hard, everyone including Mun Guk-hyeon should form a league.” For the selection of presidential candidate, they can hold a poll to find out people’s preferences, he added. DJ has set forth to direct the traffic himself, seeing the 50:50 agreement between the United New Democratic Party (UNDP) and Democratic Party (DP) leading to the outburst of dissatisfaction that it is “a loss business” from one of the two sides.

A harsh scolding by the shop owner would be a better description. Seeing the staff (UNDP and DP) focus more on small business (the share for the general election next year) and neglect the bigger business (the presidential election), the angry boss is giving them a hard time. An interesting fact is that Gwon Noh-gap, nicknamed the ‘eternal secretary’ of DJ, played a large role in concluding the 50:50 agreement. Some say that Gwon persuaded the DJ faction figures in the old days, saying, “The name value of the 50-year old opposition party Democratic Party should rightly be paid for.” With even direct acquaintances showing interest in such shares, DJ would have to feel suffocated.

During the interview, DJ said, “Though Lee Hoi-chang is running on his own, the situation is still favorable for the opposition party. But the game is worth clinging to if they can amass the people who voted for me or for President Roh Moo-hyun in the past.” That is, he would do business with the Honam votes again. No trait of a learned man’s critical point of view, and only the merchant’s realistic sense. President Roh Moo-hyun seems closer to the learned man saying Honam votes will do no good.

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