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[Opinion] Kim Moon-su vs. Lee Wan-gu

Posted August. 28, 2008 08:41,   


An interesting political sight is the seesaw battle between Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-su and South Chungcheong Province Governor Lee Wan-gu over the incumbent administration`s delayed deregulation. Their latest war of words is nothing but a political survival game. Both belong to the ruling Grand National Party. Kim, however, is an activist-turned politician while Lee used to be a police officer. Ruling party chairman Park Hee-tae has also added a cameo role in their battle.

The administration first withdrew its deregulation efforts for balanced regional development before lifting restrictions on the Seoul metropolitan area. This prompted Kim to say, “It is retrogression even from the former Roh administration.” In response, Lee blamed Kim for creating a division between the Seoul metropolitan area and other provinces, calling balanced regional development an economic drawback. Given that South Chungcheong Province could suffer negative effects from deregulation in the Seoul metropolitan area, Lee might have felt the need to rebut Kim’s argument.

For his part, Park previously warned Kim for making comments that go too far. Park, however, suddenly changed his attitude, saying, “What I meant was that his expressions were problematic, not his argument. He is one of my key confidants.” Some experts say Kim is criticizing the administration to shore up his bid for the 2012 presidential election. In contrast, some say the presidential office is showing tolerance toward Kim to nurture him as an opponent against leading conservatives Park Geun-hye, and Chung Mong-joon. Others say Kim seeks to keep his governorship in 2010.

In the next election, Lee probably feels more desperate. The ruling party failed to win a single district in South Chungcheong Province due to the rising popularity of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party. Lee might think he is facing a dead end. His strong rhetoric against the ruling party had something to do with his situation. He believes he has nothing to lose. Some political analysts predict he will desert his party in the next local elections. Politics is indeed a survival game.

Editorial Writer Kim Chang-hyeok (chang@donga.com)