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[Editorial] Cooperation at `People`s Funeral` for Roh

Posted May. 25, 2009 03:00,   


A "people`s funeral" will be held for former President Roh Moo-hyun Friday following a seven-day mourning period. A people`s funeral means the ceremony will be held in the name of the people. Cooperation at all levels is required to carry out the funeral in a solemn and calm manner.

The government’s decision to hold such a funeral might reflect the people’s desire to use the funeral as an opportunity to promote national reconciliation. Roh`s bereaved wife and aides who first wanted a family funeral probably accepted the government’s suggestion to help such a cause. Therefore, everyone should cooperate for a peaceful funeral regardless of what they thought of the deceased. To help the funeral be carried out in a solemn and calm manner is not only a way to offer condolences to the bereaved family, but can also fulfill the duties of mature citizens.

In this context, the drastic action taken by certain Roh supporters at the funeral hall in his hometown is cause for concern. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, who visited the funeral hall to express his condolences on behalf of the government, was blocked by the supporters. They even threw eggs or water at National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o and the head of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party Lee Hoi-chang. Former Grand National Party leader Park Geun-hye also could not offer her condolences and even the former presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic Party Chung Dong-young had to wait a day before he could do so. Some even went as far as trampling on flowers sent by President Lee Myung-bak, former President Chun Doo-hwan and ruling party Chairman Park Hee-tae. It is a disgrace to the deceased and his bereaved family for supporters to rudely treat those who tried to express condolences to the bereaved family regardless of their political stance, and visitors to the funeral hall who traveled a great distance.

It is equally undesirable for some to suggest a political conspiracy behind Roh’s death and instigate another round of candlelight vigils on Web bulletin boards set up for expressing condolences. A group of people is also trying to reignite social unrest by misleading the good will of people just wishing to express their condolences. Roh in his suicide note urged to “not to blame anyone.” If his death leads to more finger pointing and bitter criticism, his soul cannot rest in peace. If his supporters wish to sincerely mourn his death, they need a calm and rational attitude.

The divide over the death of a former head of state is largely blamed on politics that has driven a wedge between people instead of promoting social cohesion. Former National Assembly Speaker Kim Soo-han said, “The maturity of the people is equal to that of national politics. It is time for us to look back at ourselves instead of pointing fingers at others.” Korea`s political leaders need to ensure that Roh’s death can result in social harmony and cohesion instead of conflict and divide.