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Prime minister is a marionette or a heavyweight?

Posted July. 18, 2016 06:56,   

Updated July. 18, 2016 07:07


Back in 1995 when Kim Dae-jung decided to run for president for the fourth time, he looked for a person who can lead the party on his behalf. He selected Cho Se-hyung, a three-time lawmaker and former journalist who served as a U.S. correspondent and had a good network of people in the media, as an acting party leader because Cho could be a good supplement. Finally when presidential candidate Kim left for an overseas tour in 1997, Cho said after saying goodbye to Kim, “Now the party leader has gone and what’s remains is the ‘acting.'" It was a serious joke, describing himself as a second-in-command “in name only.”

Under former President Roh Moo-hyun, Lee Hae-chan was a “heavyweight” prime minister. It was possible because the two people shared the same idea. Roh said, “When Lee and I get a question, we write almost the same answer. We’re a match made in heaven," while Lee said, “The president is the owner of a club and the prime minister is a coach.” President Roh almost gave Lee authority to handle internal affairs while he himself blurted out initiatives like Korea’s balancing role in Northeast Asia and the grand coalition, making the country puzzled.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn ended up with eggs and water bottles throwing toward him after visiting Seongju County to persuade residents, which gave us uncomfortable feelings. The worst case would be former acting Prime Minister Jeong Won-sik, who was bombarded with eggs and flour and even a slap in the face, in June 1991. Just as the case changed the stance of the government, it remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Hwang could assuage the opposition against the deployment of THAAD in the region.

A prime minister is called the highest nominated position. The Constitution designates a prime minister as the second-in-command in case the president is incapable of serving his or her role or on the occurrence of a vacancy. Few prime ministers are like Lee Hae-chan. After Prime Minister Hwang’s case, even a "prime minister who is beaten up for the president” might be created after Prime Minister Hwang’s case after a “prime minister as an escort" or a "prime minister as a proxy reader.” The prime minister’s role is made fun of in our society because it is required to serve as a cannon fodder without the delegation of power by the no.1.

김순덕 yuri@donga.com