Editorial; `Party Summit'

Article excerpt

We welcome the move of a ``party summit'' between President Kim Dae-jung, head of the ruling National Congress for New Politics (NCNP), and Rep. Lee Hoi-chang, leader of the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) probably next week, in an attempt to settle the current political stalemate which has recently escalated a tense and uncompromising confrontation between the rival parties.

The bipartisan leaders' talks are of special significance in that their dialogue may be the last opportunity for the political leaders representing the two major parties to try to defuse the general public's distrust of politics and active politicians within this closing 20th century. This opportunity is now suggested to be a golden opportunity for them to discuss and seek preparations to develop new politics for the upcoming new century and millennium, putting an end to half a century's history of disgusting, old-fashioned national politics that featured unproductive and irrational antagonism between the governing and opposition camps.

However, the looming party summit remains fragile unless the two leaders are ready to be earnest and broad-minded enough to transcend their respective parties' interests for the national interest. Yet, we are dismayed at news reports that President Kim is adamant on his stand to bring to justice opposition lawmaker Chung Hyung-keun who touched off criticism of the alleged press-taming government plot and referred to the much-rumored allegation that Kim, when he was the opposition leader about a decade ago, received $10,000 from a spy from North Korea. We are also bewildered at press reports that GNP leader Lee has made an unrealistic call for President Kim to wash his hands of the nascent new government party tentatively dubbed the Democratic New Party for New Millennium, though even Kim, before he took power, had been among the Korean opposition leaders who used to demand that the then chief executives quit their party memberships.

Noteworthy is the fact that very few believe that Kim received the money from Pyongyang through a North Korea-sent spy. We sympathize with Kim's anger caused by Rep. Chung's political but slanderous remarks that Kim, opposition leader at that time, ``begged for then President Roh Tae-woo's forgiveness in an earnest manner of wringing his hands to be acquitted.'' Obviously a provocative remark which enraged Kim to make him determined to order the reinvestigation of the so-called Rep. Suh Kyung-won case in which investigation authorities under Roh's rule announced that one-time lawmaker Suh illegally visited Pyongyang and delivered $10,000 he received from the North Korean leadership to Kim in Seoul.

The opposition call for President Kim to secede from the new ruling party is also excessive and inadequate because the Chief Executive under the presidential system of government, prescribed for by the existing Constitution, should be backed by a major party as in the United States. …