Go to contents

Butterfly effect of controversy over constitutional amendment

Butterfly effect of controversy over constitutional amendment

Posted October. 30, 2014 01:24,   


Remarks on looming debate over constitutional amendment that ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung made at a press meeting in Shanghai, China, is continuously generating a string of ramifications. This is how it started. At the breakfast meeting on October 16, Kim first took the microphone and held an official question and answer session for 20 minutes. There were no questions about constitutional amendment during this session. Kim made the remarks in question when holding chats with nine reporters, while eating meal after putting away the microphone.

When his remarks were reported in the news, the main opposition party and the pro-Park Geun-hye faction in the ruling party displayed feverish responses. The opposition party enthusiastically welcomed the remarks, while the pro-Park faction that is in rivalry with Kim, denied it, saying, “It is premature.” Anyone could have predicted a response to this extent.

As Kim “backed down” (expression used by Kim) and made an official apology to President Park the very next day, the situation started to gradually deviate from predictions in the political circle. The presidential office, which had remained silent, also made direct criticism against Kim four days after his apology, which was also viewed as a surprise.

Then on Thursday last week, Rep. Kim Tae-ho resigned as member of Saenuri’s supreme council, expressing discontent regarding controversy over constitutional amendment. The situation thus unfolded in a direction that was completely unpredicted. Some watchers believe that the Saenuri Party is beefing up efforts for public pension reform due to the aftereffect of Kim’s remarks on constitutional amendment. This situation justifiably deserves the expression “butterfly effect.”

Insiders in the political circle take former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon as a typical example of "butterfly effect." In August 2011, then Mayor Oh put his mayoral post as stake in a public vote on whether the city will introduce cross-the-board free school meals or not, and ended up resigning. The fact Oh, then a highly promising politician, stepped down and the city came to elect a new mayor was a major incident in itself.

However, the results that followed the incident entailed a situation that went well beyond "replacement of the mayor." At the time, Ahn Cheol-soo, then dean of the Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, and Park Won-soon, executive director of the Hope Institute, moved forward to the frontlines of politics, generating a massive seismic shift in the nation’s political structure. The political circle is still reeling from the impact, and will likely continue for the time being.

As evidenced by this example, "key" politicians should be very cautious when making statements or judgments. Saenuri Party Chairman Kim admitted that he was reckless in that the timing and venue where he made the remarks on constitutional amendment was not appropriate. However, he has repeatedly pointed out that the media misinterpreted the intention of his remarks. His saying could be interpreted to mean that although he made such remarks due to concern over the looming debate over constitutional amendment after the regular session of the National Assembly, the media reported as if he instigated discussions over constitutional amendment.

Even if this is true, it is believed that if his remarks had the possibility to cause multiple reporters to misunderstand his true intention, Kim shouldn`t have made such remarks in the first place. Blaming the media does not seem to fit stately behaviors and grandiose style of Kim, who is nicknamed “Moo-dae (means ‘chief’).”

Rep. Kim Tae-ho is in the driver’s seat for now as to how further the butterfly effect of controversy over constitutional amendment will continue to stay. It remains to be seen whether the effect will subside through the lawmaker`s ‘return to the supreme council’ or whether completely different outcome will unfold through by-election to elect members of the party’s supreme council.