Editorial; Politics of Regionalism

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), March 5, 2000 | Go to article overview

Editorial; Politics of Regionalism


Regionalism, a cancer to Korea's political modernization and development, reemerged last week as a central issue for the upcoming election. President Kim Dae-jung's remark on the occasion to commemorate the 81st anniversary of Korea's Independence Movement on March 1, 1919 alluded to the counter-productive effect regionalism has had in Korea, especially since the military coup in 1961. The two main architects of the coup were late president Park Chung-hee and ex-prime minister Kim Jong-pil, the de facto leader of the United Liberal Democrats.

The former prime minister angrily retorted President Kim's remark at his party supporters' rally in Puyo, Southern Chungchong province. Kim shifted the blame by arguing that President Kim is guilty of sparking regional sentiments in 1971 in order to woo votes from the Cholla electorates of his home province for his presidential campaign. Lee Hoi-chang, the leader of the Grand National Party, lost no opportunity to intervene. Lee labeled President Kim as the person largely responsible for the introduction of regionalism. Lee blamed President Kim's remark during the 1987 presidential election campaign to the effect that he was sure to win the race if it was a contest of four candidates with regionally divided political support.

The display of political shenanigans to shift blame to one another will serve no useful purpose in curing the political ills of regional animosity and bias. …

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