The Triumph of Machiavellian Horse-trading and Regional animosity
April 29, 2000
South Korean voters have given very clear message to DJ Kim that his major concern for the regional antagonism has not been addressed but aggravated to the point that his party was totally beaten in his enemy region, and that his two-year presidency has been nothing but the ongoing series of corruption, scandals and nepotism that his party was able to garner only 36 percent of the popular votes, 3 percent less than what the opposition party gained.
His erstwhile partner, JP Kim, a creator of infamous KCIA, who was miserably sold out by DJ in the final stage, took another drubbing in his native region and lost the bargaining status in the parliament.
On the other hand, the opposition party was able to obtain the first party status less 4 seats short of a majority, even though there have been political infighting among the regional czars over the leadership and some of them had formed a splinter party in their friendly region.
With no party claiming the majority, it is obvious from the beginning that the political prospective in the South Korea firmly remains in chaotic situation, no matter how the Machiavellian president would maneuver to obtain the support from his former partner JP Kim whom would not be easily swayed by. DJ may persuade four independents (?) to join his party with perks and carrots, but he still needs someone from the opposition party to pass the law and execute the policy.
However, as usual in South Korea, he, as an executive head, has an upperhand to deal with political maneuverings and has powerful trump cards in his hands, such as prosecutorial and financial power at his disposal legally or illegally.
Since his debut in the political arena in the 60s up until now, DJ Kim has changed his clothes numerous times according to the political climate…he started his career as a rookie spokesman for the opposition coalition showing the left-leaning ideology shouting “Yankee go home”, a perennial underdog during military dictatorship, and finally a born-again globalist who is ready to do anything for his presidency, display without hesitation his cunning characteristics to cheat and dump his partner into the den of howling civilian predators, snatch up the disgraced opposition members with the promise of rewards, cover up the scandals of his mandarins to protect his own ass, put all available national resources on the international auction bloc and so on.
DJ Kim has already embarked on the horse-trading with the opposition leader and his forlorn ex-partner, promising (?) that he would not brandish his prosecutorial power to punish the opposition members who are in violation of the laws; he would not be on a “snatchup” campaign for disgruntled members of the opposition party; he would honor his promise of sharing power with former partner JP Kim and etc.
However, these promises are contingent on the premises that the opposition party allows the ruling party to hold the speaker of the parliament and share the positions of committee chairmanship with them; the Sunshine policy would be sanctioned by all the parties; UDL join the ruling party and so on.
One should be a complete fool to believe that DJ’s horse-trading would last for sometime, as you closely examine the passe resume of the traders…who would jump on the backstabbing, character assassination, and conspiracy to scuttle the deals right after the announcement of the reconciliation and cooperation.
There might be a negotiated resolution on who holds the speakership, but it would not be hard to envisage the quagmire status of the parliament from the beginning of the session.
As for the regional antagonism between the two rival provinces, it has an innate defect in the hypothesis that the matter could be addressed successfully by the politicians, because all the politicians have to be parasitized and to thrive on the issues in order to remain in politics and it has been going on for centuries in Korea.
During my trip to South Korea last year, I have traveled extensively along the regional boundary dividing two competing provinces and sought for an answer whether there has been significant reduction of hate feeling between two provinces.
And the answer was negative, and my feeling on the subject was in unison with the overall feelings of the people from the DJ’s enemy region that the president was digging up deep to eradicate people from the Southeastern province from the government posts and other lucrative corporate managerial positions to replace with the people from his native provinces, quite contrary to what he publicly advocates to reconcile with his former enemy.
His attempts to harmonize the regional animosity have come about with the building of Gen. Park’s memorial hall with tax payers money and the releasing of two crooked generals from the death row and clink in order to disrupt the power base of the opposition party and to pay back for what he owed to them in millions of dollars.
The problem is DJ Kim and his ilk do not seem to be getting the message…one of DJ’s mandarins from the Blue House recently has bitterly complained with a bizarre theory that when the minority of DJ’s native province showed their solidarity to vote for the ruling party, it justifies their action as if the black people in the United States solidify their fight against the racial discrimination, and conversely it is injustice to see the majority of DJ’s enemy province to support for the home party, as the white majority deny the right of minority’s opportunity to participate in the public sphere. He appears to be asking to implement the Korean version of the Affirmative Action for Chollado people…give them a right to vote twice in the presidential election and to elect two Assemblymen instead of one in each constituency because they are minority.
However, one should not ignore the fact that many constituencies in Seoul and vicinity where DJ people have won the election have been flooded with the ex-Chollado people that have left their native province for more affluent cities and communities.
Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that the Chollado people are genetically less productive in the procreation business than any other Koreans, and therefore they could eventually catch up with other populous province as the blacks in the US have been prone to breed many kids.
Bottom line is the South Koreans have refused to give a strong mandate for DJ Kim during his remaining presidency and shown their displeasure against his neo-liberal restructuring of South Korean economy that panders only the profit of transnational corporations and neglects the well being of ordinary people.
South Koreans have been enjoying overall growth of economy due to the increased export to the US and rampant spending with the borrowed money, but the good days seem to be numbered as the global economy begins to show the fatigue and indigestion due to the overcapacity and bubbles in the credit systems in the market.
After the collapse of Daewoo Corporation, Hyundai Group, the industrial bastion of the South Korea, has emerged as next Goliath to belly up…it has been well known in the financial circle around the world that Hyundai Investment Trust was heavily exposed to Daewoo bonds of 800 billion Won and other affiliates like Electronics and Marine Merchant were holding huge stocks of the Trust to cause the chain reaction of “Sell Hyundai” pandemonium in the stock market, and contrary to the foreseeable disruption, DJ’s financial czars were lethargic and mum taking no counter-measures for not to scare the public until the April election.
And now as the South Korean government has been stripped from its ability to resist and intervene in the looming crisis on the financial horizon through the consolidation of IMF restructuring process, chaos and resentment would be the order of the day.
South Koreans should not forget that a few months ago DJ Kim had blurted out white lies that since his government has overcome the hurdle of IMF bailout, he would achieve full employment in 2003 and balanced budget in 2004.
What would be his next lie before his term expires?