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Opinion

[Editorial] World watching Korea

Nation should not become a laughing stock any more

More and more foreign countries are watching South Korea and the Blue House during this indescribably disgraceful time for Koreans. 

The scandal involves President Park Geun-hye and her nongovernment confidante Choi Soon-sil. More than a week ago, evidence emerged that Choi had meddled in a variety of government affairs.

But Park has yet to publicize her stance on the matter after making a lax apology to the public a week ago.

There is no lawmaker from the ruling Saenuri Party who officially demands Park’s departure from her post. Furthermore, backed into a corner, the party is clashing with opposition parties in an apparent bid to spark political strife. Though the prosecution is probing the scandal, it appears to have mostly lost credibility with the public due to its slowness to act.

Some lawmakers seem to be seeking to divide the public into conservatives and liberals. This is a foolish move. Saenuri and the prosecution should be aware that the issue goes beyond political ideology.

It is somewhat welcome that several Saenuri lawmakers assert the urgent need to revamp the party’s internal structure. But it is not in the interests of the public at the present stage nor a remedy to the nation’s current problems.

Some foreign media highlighted that South Korea’s incumbent president was swayed by a superstitious power in implementing her administrative affairs. Korean citizens’ pride has dipped to a historic low since their liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

Unfortunately, this is not a matter of incompetence in state affairs. If it were, continuation of her remaining term would be secure despite policy failures. But even praiseworthy policies cannot be considered legitimate if they are masterminded or meddled in by private individuals who hold no public office.

In 2012, citizens voted for Park, entrusting her with overall state affairs including defense, foreign relations, economy and culture. But she betrayed the trust citizens had put in her.

Some politicians are discussing whether to adopt a neutral Cabinet through collaboration between ruling and opposition parties. They say it would help the situation if the president’s role is scaled down. However, such a scheme is not rational. Tolerating the next 16 months until her tenure expires means South Korea will continue to be an international mockery.

Under the suggestion, the nation will host the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics with a “scarecrow” president. And whenever multilateral summits are held, the nation will be seen as an uninfluential bystander. Neighbors such as Beijing, Tokyo and Pyongyang could exploit the fiasco in Seoul.

The nation has to build fresh relations with the coming new president of the United States, and closely collaborate with the international community to cope with North Korea’s provocations. Diplomatic loopholes would hamper these activities. Administrative defects could also bring downgrades of the sovereign credit rating.

It does not seem that Park is willing to resign, though she faces opposition in the form of rallies organized by citizens across the nation, including a large number of her previous supporters.

If she tries to extend the humiliation of this democratic country and its citizens, she may encounter an even worse fate than she currently does.
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