South Korean President Moon Jae-in said during his New Year’s press conference on Monday that it is not the time to discuss pardons for former Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, dismissing the possibility of granting special pardons for the two former presidents, which was suggested by Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) leader Lee Nak-yon early this year.
President Moon, however, said the issue will be deliberated carefully when the right time comes, adding national consensus is a prerequisite for any future discussions on the matter. In his talks with the public in May 2019, President Moon did not comment on pardoning the two former presidents, stressing that their trial was still ongoing. Now that their sentences are confirmed, President Moon set national consensus as a prerequisite for discussing pardons for the ex-presidents. It is questionable when and who can say for sure that national consensus has been reached on the issue.
A pardon is a political decision that should be made by the president despite oppositions from his supporters given that the country should end an unfortunate era and move towards the future in order to promote national integration and elevate national status. It is an issue that must be resolved irrespective of the gains and losses of the mayoral by-election in Seoul and Busan in April and the presidential election in March next year.
Regarding the ruling party’s decision to revise its constitution to nominate candidates for by-elections despite sexual harassment scandals, President Moon defended the party, saying a party’s constitution is not unchangeable like the Constitution. It is a poor formal logic considering that the clause was introduced as part of political innovation measures while President Moon was the chairman of the party. More than anyone else, President Moon should have criticized the ruling party’s political decision.
President Moon’s comments on political issues appear to be aimed at his supporters rather than the entire nation. As can be seen from the remarks such as “Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl is the Prosecutor General of the Moon Jae-in administration” and “I don’t think the investigation (by the Board of Audit and Inspection on nuclear reactor) had political intentions,” President Moon expressed concerns about his lame-duck presidency but it is regrettable that he did not point out the ruling party’s constant bashing on Prosecutor General Yoon and Board of Audit and Inspection Chairman Choi Jae-hyeong.
President Moon also protested against the controversy surrounding his lack of communication, saying he visited the field more than any other presidents. However, he surprised many people while talking about the abuse issue of an adopted child by saying there should be measures to cancel the adoption or change adopted child. The fact that the president went beyond common sense is a testament that he has not communicated with the public enough. During the remainder of his presidency, President Moon should try to listen to a wide range of opinions, including opposing ones rather than communicating only with his close associates or supporters.