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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Of power vacua and excesses

As expected (see "The Fall Of The House Of Park"), there's a de facto power vacuum in South Korea, where President PARK Geun-hye, plagued by the CHOI Soon-sil scandal, is every day more unlikely to finish her mandate.

The Korean people is quasi unanimous, and honored this nation's democracy through the most massive and perfect demonstration in the heart of Seoul.

If ever the stubborn PGH doesn't seem ready to step down, it's basically a matter of how and when. The opposition demands an immediate resignation, which would allow MOON Jae-in, AHN Cheol-soo, and PARK Won-soon to run, and what's left of the ruling party would prefer an impeachment that would take much more time, and allow BAN Ki-moon to join the race

The Saenuri implosion was already acted when the pro-Park faction confirmed its lock on the party, months ago. And such conservative media as Chosun Ilbo and Joongang Ilbo / JTBC are playing active roles in exposing scandals as they come.

Beyond CHOI Soon-sil and PARK Geun-hye, the case of WOO Byung-woo could turn out to be the most crucial for the future of South Korea democracy, because it exposes corruption at the core of justice. Judging by the doubts surrounding the former prosecutor's own prosecutors, it won't be easily done.

I often worry about the fragile balance of powers in South Korea (for instance in 2012 - see "25 years later"). And that essential dimension of democracy must be reaffirmed now that democracy itself is struggling across the globe.

Without waiting for the next lame duck to claim Cheong Wa Dae, the Asia Pacific region is celebrating the arrival of yet another controversial leader with a questionable vision of democracy: this scary motley crew (KIM Jong-un, Vladimir PUTIN, Shinzo ABE, Narendra MODI, XI Jinping, Rodrigo DUTERTE...) welcomes Donald TRUMP, who will soon have an access to both the nuclear and the POTUS twitter account codes. 

What could possibly go wrong?

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Fall Of The House Of Park

When PARK Geun-hye was elected, I seriously wondered "who won the elections?", and "if she's running her own show" (see "The Anipang Election: Park wins big, but who won?").

Back then, I was mostly thinking about the potential influence of such political cliques as die-hard PARK Chung-hee loyalists, revisionists she never truly distanciated herself from. I had no clue about her dependence to the guru dynasty CHOI Tae-min - CHOI Soon-sil.

That didn't come as a surprise in a nation where so many charlatans gravitate around powerful people, exploiting their weaknesses as easily as they do with 'commoners', only with greater reward.

And in Korea, when the gimchi hits the fan, it can get so grossly messy that you often feel like crying and laughing out loud at the same time (ICYMI read T.K.'s scarily hillarious summary on the CHOI Soon-sil scandal "The Irrational Downfall of Park Geun-hye" - 20161029).

This quasi legally incapacitated president simply has to step down. But this morning, if PARK agreed on inquieries, she was still in denial of being under influence.

She appointed a ROH Moo-hyun-friendly PM, KIM Byeong-joon, and a KIM Dae-jung-friendly Chief of Staff, Han Gwang-ok, to take care of a good part of the business... if not to put some pressure on the opposition, and to welcome them on board her sinking vessel.

By doing that, she also potentially forges a direct competitor to MOON Jae-in and AHN Cheol-soo for next year's presidential elections. Meanwhile, PARK Won-soon tries to seize the president's political suicide as swiftly as he did for his predecessor in Seoul City Hall OH Se-hoon, and to make the most of the few weeks remaining before BAN Ki-moon can declare himself.

One thing seems sure: if the UNSG runs, it won't be under the Saenuri banner. The name was chosen by CHOI Soon-sil, and the party is bound to implode following this latest twist in the destructive pro-anti-Park tug of war.

So much for PARK Geun-hye's heritage. And beyond that, for her family's legacy.

PARK Chung-hee didn't have the guts to terminate the CHOI Tae-min imposture in its infancy, and ever since, his daughter and her siblings have paid the price. Now this family mess has contaminated the whole nation.

Here's how, four years ago, I concluded my remarks on PGH's election: "It's up to her (or to the people who drive the vehicle) to decide where to lead the nation, and what kind of final legacy she wants her family to leave. Let's see how this blank page evolves. And how history is being written. Including and particularly the past, in school textbooks."
And timely, school textbooks tainted by CHOI's fingerprints have just be confirmed*...

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* see "Protesting 'Soon-sil textbook'" (The Korea Times 20161103)

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