South Korean President Park Geun-hye has lost her authority because of the “Choi Sun-sil scandal” related to her intimate old friend’s involvement in the national affairs. At the same time, her late father and former President Park Chung-hee’s halo that made her the President is waning along with South Korea’s brand image.
Compounding the matter now is those who are trying to survive or rebound by taking advantage of the scandal and the President in a political coma. They include opposition party lawmakers, even those from the ruling party and the media, which all are like clans of hyenas around a dead prey. Foreign news outlets also are scrambling to report the scandal as the local media pour out.
Those politicians, who are insisting that the President step down because the people is angry, are busy serving themselves and sticking to retrogressive practices instead of introspecting and proposing visions for the future. The President met with Chairman of the National Assembly on November 8 and mentioned that she would allow a prime minister recommended by the National Assembly to govern the cabinet, but opposition parties turned down the proposal the very next day as if their acceptance of the proposal would lead the nation’s anger to subside.
If we see the other side of the coin, what is at the center of the wrath of the nation due to the scandal is their thirst for advanced and well-organized administrative systems. As shameful as the scandal is, what matters now is whether the shame will end up in a consuming anger or be turned into a pain of growth. This critical decision is up to none other than the nation.
The people of South Korea have overcome a series of national crises very adeptly. They achieved democracy back in the 1980s, when the entire national economy and society was under the tyranny of a military regime. They also pulled through the two currency crises in the 1990s by means of painstaking restructuring. Within a period of as short as six decades, South Korea realized democracy while rising from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the 10 largest economies in the world.
Unfortunately, however, during the past administrations, the country failed to set up a sound ecosystem to drop some bad practices, that is, some individuals like parasites clinging to those in power, forced fundraising targeting conglomerates, collusive connections between the political and business communities, etc. Needless to say, the Choi Sun-sil scandal that is leading to the people’s mounting anger is yet another part of the result of the failure.
At this moment, South Korea is in the face of critical crises, which is characterized by North Korea’s nuclear tests and the election of trade protectionist Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Under the circumstances, the political community must be extremely careful not to make a mistake by letting the people buried in a continuous anger and confusion and letting the country lose its hard-earned energy for growth. The role of the leaders of the nation at this juncture is to gather their wisdom and make a breakthrough for better and more transparent political and economic systems. The Choi Soon-sil scandal should be motivated to become a real chance to upgrade the operation of national affairs.