Even though I am an American citizen, being of Korean heritage, I’m still interested in the political situation there. The recent Presidential campaign was heated and I followed the debates closely. Last Wednesday, the Korean people chose Lee Myung-bak as their next president.
I’d like to share some thoughts on the past, present and future presidents of Korea.
The Bible says, “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1) I think that God loves Korea and has allowed it to have presidents who were most effective for their given times.
People criticize President Roh Tae-woo for not accomplishing anything. But as a former military officer, he helped the Korean government transition peacefully from military to civilian rule. Without him, much turmoil might have ensued. The next President, Kim Young-sam, eliminated military cronyism and cleansed the government of military influence. President Kim Dae-jung overcame the Korean financial crisis with the help of the International Monetary Fund and opened up a dialogue with North Korea. The current president Roh Moo-hyun destroyed the chronic authoritarianism of high officials by behaving like an ordinary citizen and helped make the government open and clean.
Now Lee will become president. If the current president’s role was like demolishing an aged building, the role of the next president will be to build a new house. With his experience as CEO of the Hyundai conglomerate and mayor of Seoul, he may be a man who can help Korea become healthier and stronger economically.
During the presidential campaign, his opponents repeatedly accused him of being dishonest and corrupt. But the Korean people seem to have decided that although he made mistakes in his personal and public life, he is not the criminal or fraud his opponents painted him as. They apparently accepted the fact that no candidate is morally perfect and chose someone who can be the most effective president of Korea.
In my opinion, the candidate who offered policies for a most just society was Moon Kook-hyun. Although he was not a Christian, his proposed policies were favorable to the weak and closest to what God wants in a government. But it was hard for people to vote for him because his political base was too thin, and the government can’t be run by a single man.
During the presidential campaign, I was most impressed by Park Geun-hye, daughter of the late president Park Chung-hee. Although she was narrowly defeated – probably unfairly – by Lee in her party primaries, she respected the outcome and campaigned for Lee. She proved herself to be a true stateswoman.
I pray that Lee, who is a strong Christian, may learn from his past mistakes and become a president the Korean people respect and are proud of.
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