Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Moon Jae-in, who became the president of South Korea after the Candlelight Revolution in 2017, is trying to reform the country in accordance with the demands of demonstrators by pursuing highly progressive policies. Opposition politicians and some conservative media, however, are strongly criticizing Moon’s policies despite his approval rating exceeding 50%.

When the press reported about Choi Soon-sil, who had a strong influence on the disgraced former president Park Guen-hye, Koreans went out to Gwanghwamun Square in the freezing cold and brought the corrupt leader down through peaceful anti-corruption demonstrations. But the goals of the Candlelight Revolution have not been achieved. Creating a better South Korea by supporting progressive policies was everyone’s dream at that time, but now opposition parties and some conservative media are harshly criticizing Moon and pressuring him to abandon his reform agenda.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of Liberty Korea Party, which is the leading opposition party and governed from 2008 to early 2017, in the National Assembly, said Seoul should abrogate a military agreement signed with North Korea at the Pyongyang summit in September 2018 while Moon was serving as a mediator role in denuclearization negotiations between the US and North Korea. Some opposition lawmakers also have recently argued that the South Korean government should acquire nuclear weapons so the country has the capacity to respond to North Korea’s missile launches and military provocations. It also said Moon, who is working to build a peaceful relationship with North Korea, is a leftist dictator because of his position on issues relating to Pyongyang. It is constantly raising the issue of ideology because Koreans generally take a conservative view of North Korea’s regime. Why do they complain about Moon’s plan for bringing North Korea back to the table to negotiate denuclearization with US President Donald Trump?

The economy of South Korea has been weak for decades. The country’s minimum-wage increase makes it difficult for small businesses to pay their employees. However, labor unions demand a minimum wage of about US$9 or more and say the current minimum wage is insufficient. Young people are increasingly unable to find jobs, and large firms are lagging behind the competition in industries that require experimentation and investment compared to companies in other countries because of government regulations.

In the past few years, most people have come to see that the economy is in poor shape. It was only a few years ago that the government allowed the deregulation of large companies and let them easily dismiss workers. Trickle-down economic policies have led to the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. Koreans agreed with Moon’s economic policies aimed at making middle-class and working-class people richer, but Koreans say the government has not implemented support policies for companies to help them pay their employees’ wages as the minimum wage has risen. Therefore, the assertion by some media that Moon caused the economic downturn is malicious. Moon needs more time to prove that his administration’s economic policies are right for the development of Korea, and the press should always report neutrally about Moon from various perspectives. Some conservative politicians and the press have argued that workers must receive a minimum wage of about $7 per hour for the good of the economy. But shouldn’t the government work for 99% of the people, not just the top 1%?

The Japanese government’s economic retaliation against large Korean corporations in the semiconductor sector will not prove to be a wise economic move for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The Japanese government’s economic retaliation against large Korean corporations in the semiconductor sector will not prove to be a wise economic move for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Even if Abe did it to win the election so he can amend the constitution, his decision still does not make sense. The Korean government has been trying to form a good relationship with Abe, who did not even apologize for what the Japanese military did to Koreans during World War II, such as sexual abuse and compulsory labor. However, the Japanese government’s arbitrary decision has led Koreans to boycott Japanese products, and many Koreans have also canceled their trips to Japan. Some Japanese experts said Koreans’ boycott will have a negative economic impact on small cities in Japan.

“Please respond actively to this conflict with Japan,” Gwangdeok high-school students in Gwangju said to their parents at the school on July 17, marking the first time a high school has boycotted Japanese products since the conflict with the Japanese government began. Newspapers such as Chosun Ilbo have posted articles and columns explaining that the Korean government is making the wrong moves in the conflict with Japan. As presidential spokesperson Ko Min-Jeong stated in early July in her daily briefing to the press at the Blue House, the press should come out strongly against the Japanese government’s economic retaliation against Korea.

Hwang (leader of the Liberty Korea Party) insisted that the Korean government should not respond emotionally to Japan’s economic retaliation. But when they hit us, should we just sit there and do nothing?

North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapons and missile launchers and has carried out provocative military operations. Is it a lawmaker’s obligation to keep the president in check by intensifying the ideological conflict, when he has been putting his full efforts since he took office into talking with an omnipotent power that is thoroughly isolated from the international community? The leader of the Liberty Korea Party was the minister of justice and prime minister under Park’s administration, and Park was the first impeached president in Korean history, which seriously undermines his credibility.

While the policy direction of the Moon’s administration is not supported by all Koreans, all citizens need to take a stand against the Japanese government’s recent provocation for the sake of the national interest. How can the opposition parties and some members of the press place their own interests above the national interest? Is the president of South Korea talking to the North Korean leader a North Korean himself? Should the South Korean government, which is actively responding to the economic retaliation of the Japanese government and actively coping with problems through the localization of semiconductor equipment and cultivating trade with other countries, be kind to Abe? The media should be neutral. Each press organ may have its own political ideology, but it should not reveal its ideology in a news article, which should always stick to the facts so the people can understand what is going on.

Now is the best time to show Korea’s true status to the international community. Koreans should solve problems wisely by forming a united front, not by causing divisions internally by embracing divisive political ideologies.

Also read: Samsung damns torpedoes, steams ahead with chip production

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