We are seeing the rise of a sacred group of the nobility in the South Korean political arena. Those untouchable commit misdeeds with impunity, which the nation’s Constitution prohibits explicitly. However, the new variant of the aristocracy has suddenly been rearing its ugly head since a series of scandals and irregularities broke out regarding those closest to South Korean President Moon Jae-in such as former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, Rep. Yoon Mee-hyang of the ruling party, a.k.a. an activist for survivors of Japan’s wartime sexual exploitation, and incumbent Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae. The sacredly untouchable seem to stay safe and intact thanks to the patronage of the prosecution and police authorities, courts, the National Election Commission, the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, and even the Supreme Court or the last bastion of equality and justice. Regrettably, the system of separation of powers has long been left unprotected and neglected.
By contrast, a life of “gaboonggae” – a neologism for “petty” commoners used in South Korea – is treated like trash. Given that a South Korean public servant who got shot to death by North Korean troops is regarded by the Moon administration as an abandoned child, who would ever grant it a nation’s legitimacy and genuineness? Apart from controversy over the victim’s attempt to defect, what matters most is to hold the North Korean regime accountable for shooting a person adrift in the sea and, allegedly, burning the body into ashes. However, to everyone’s shock, those on the ruling party side including President Moon are shedding tears of gratitude by thinking of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s mere apologetic message as a holy directive written by an imperial ruler.
What’s worse, the Moon administration built up “Jae-in Fortress” with police buses and steel fences surrounding Gwanghwamun Square and questioned pedestrians randomly to prevent against anti-government protests. With powerful organizations in its grip, the current administration is running amok with a growing severity and insanity. No one would have imagined seeing such a hard-to-believe situation unfold in this highly advanced era – as a mere result of a presidential electee gaining control of a nation. The then presidential candidate Moon Jae-in said, “Achieving presidency is a means to change the world.” All things considered, we cannot choose but poignantly admit that he has made it. Yes, President Moon Jae-in has brought a lot more changes and shifts to South Korea than any other predecessor throughout history, making it a nation stained with injustice, insecurity and lack of righteousness. It is a shameful reminder of how the nation’s politics and democracy are swayed by a mere individual’s leadership – not based on rules and principles.
Now, all eyes are on the next presidential election. Some ruling party members have already plotted out a possibly scenario to grow South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyung-soo, one of President Moon’s closest advisers and a member of the holy nobility, as their next presidential candidate – President Moon’s heir to the throne – if the second trial next month rules that he is not guilty. Considering that the prosecution and police authorities and the judiciary branch have already become ultra-left, it may not be an absurd plan. Although Democratic Party leader Lee Nak-yeon and Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung are talked of as a likely ruling-party candidate for presidency, pro-Moon political leaders may think that they are still outside their clan. In a possible scenario, Lee Nak-yeon, Lee Jae-myung, Kim Kyung-soo and Cho Kuk – if he gets a stigma regarding his irregularities removed – may compete for a presidential primary.
Then, what is the opposition party’s plan for the next presidential election scheduled on March 9 2022? Regrettably, not any candidate has not yet been singled out as a likely runner with the election just one year and five months away. It is clear why the opposing party is struggling while the Moon administration is doing terribly. Added to the reputation as a fuddy-duddy conservative party, it shows little potential for conceiving and producing a next president. Given South Korean voters’ patterns and perceptions and Korean politics that is still dependent heavily on a leader’s influence, it is only natural that a political party without any prospective presidential candidate fails to gain public attention and support.
Here is a lesson that the opposition People's Party may learn from how President Moon grew to be a national leader. He was carved up into a promotional merchandise by pro-Roh Moo-hyun politicians, left-leaned leaders and other opposition forces. Moon was not intent on staying in the political arena nor fit to become a political leader. It was said that his life-long friend, the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, also considered that Moon is not born to be a political leader. Nowadays Roh’s insightful assessment resonates with many of us.
Moon in presidency is a result of the perseverance and persistence that leading pro-Roh figures and elderly veterans on the opposition side showed in persuading him into running for presidency. The key lied in both pro-Roh politicians turning Roh’s death into another chance to rise stronger and left-wingers, who had to pass presidential power from Roh to Lee Myung-bak, acting out of deep desperation. Given what has recently unfolded, the People's Party and conservatives may necessarily feel a greater level of desperation. The ruling party confidently chants for “Staying in leadership for 20 years” but the severity of the current status only tells that the nation may face greater trouble if the ruling party leads it just five more years.
Here is a piece of advice: Such a high level of desperation shared across the opposition party is a good recipe for a promotional product for presidency. Then, what matters is to showcase a “brand new” merchandise. It is not a smart marketing strategy to reuse out-of-date products - presidential candidates who lost in the previous elections while merely changing wrapping paper to make them look different. A candidate who just looks like a young master from a wealthy family does not win the hearts of voters of our time. It is important to identify and grow a promising candidate whose life story is inspiring enough to make him or her an attractive person and who is able to show vision for the future.
Also, People Power Party’s interim leader Kim Chong-in should start preparations to nurture a new candidate for the next presidential election. This will help allay critics who doubt, “He may still be dreaming of presidency.” Not only Kim but also any previous presidential candidate should stop thinking mistakenly that they are the next hero for victory, and instead put their heads together to make their collective triumph happen. If they refuse to change and act, they will only be remembered by the next generations as those who tip the nation that is already at risk off the cliff.