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[Opinion] Former Justice Minister’s Dream: A Happier World

[Opinion] Former Justice Minister’s Dream: A Happier World

Posted December. 07, 2007 05:25,   


Former Justice Minister Kim Seong-ho does not have a middle school diploma. Instead, he had to go to a civil education center where he did not have to pay tuition because his family’s financial situation was not good. The center in Busan had only two classes: one in a garage, and the other in a tent. At the time, he lived at a wealthy friend’s home working as a tutor.

When he was at a level equivalent to the 10th grade, the center was certified as Peniel Business High School. So he was given a high school diploma. There were only tourism and advertisement departments, and he opted for tourism. Kim, who wanted to go to a college, studied abacus calculations, bookkeeping, music, art, and folk art history at the school and taught himself English and math. He decided to go to Korea University because he did not have to take a test for a second foreign language to do so.

As a prosecutor, after he failed to become justice minister twice during the current administration, he became one in the end. Kim started his term last August and emphasized the rule of law over a yearly period. His belief was that illegal strikes must not lead to an increase in salary. He was also interested in creating a business-friendly environment and turned in a revision bill on business law to that end to the National Assembly, but it failed to become a subject of discussion. The bill will be dropped as a result.

There has been speculation that he will run in the general elections after being nominated by an opposition party because he stepped down in the wake of conflicts with the “386 generation” power block of the Roh administration. President Roh Moo-hyun persuaded him to run in the elections for the ruling party. Kim, however, decided to do something else. He set up a foundation called “A Happy World” on Thursday. The goals he set are almost the same he had as a Justice Minister, with an emphasis on the rule of law, business-friendly environment, and stability of the lives of the weak and ordinary citizens. The former justice minister thinks that those are critical elements to happiness. But he says that the foundation will sometimes work as a think-tank or an activist group. Kim is a man who has overcome adversity with his firm will. I hope that his efforts succeed in making the world a happier place sooner.

Heo Seung-ho, Editorial Writer, tigera@donga.com