Thursday, December 06, 2012

the South Korean presidential debate

Great commentary on the recent three-way South Korean presidential debate by Tom Coyner of the Korea Economic Reader (much more balanced than The Korean's commentary over at the Marmot's Hole, in which The Korean essentially worships the Pyongyangist debater while providing no substantive account of the conservative response), quoted by GI Korea of ROK Drop. A Coyner excerpt:

I was expecting to witness something as dreary as the US presidential debates. And boy oh boy, did I get that one wrong!

Here we had two real and one make-believe presidential candidates on stage, helpfully seated from left to right, as if according to their political leanings. On the far, far, far-out-of-sight left sat Lee Jung-hee of the Unified Progressive Party, with all [the] poise and tact of [a] very smart and impudent PoliSci grad student. On the right was Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party with the imperial demeanor of someone patiently waiting to wear purple. And in between these two women sat poor Mr. Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party.

If anyone charges the stage manager of a set up, [it would be] entirely understandable. Lee, with her discredited reputation as a likely Pyongyang stooge and political hypocrite in how she got caught unethically manipulating her party’s candidates earlier this year, came on stage with a nothing-to-lose attitude. In fact, she succeeded in rattling Madam Park’s cage by openly stating that she was in the debate for the sole purpose of derailing Geun-hye’s drive for the Blue House. While coming across as the brightest and most articulate of the three, as only one can from being extremely well versed in an ideological discipline, Lee once accidentally let her true colors show when she referred to South Korea as Namchuk, the term used only by North Koreans.

While Lee operated like a communist interrogator with Park, Ms. Park in a more measured manner went on the [counterattack], though not as aggressive[ly] or as articulate[ly] as Lee. Park came across as the least capable of the three, often looking at her notes, for which she is famous.

With the majority of presidential candidates being liberal, and with the peninsula already taking a dim view of current (conservative) president Lee Myeong-bak, I predict a liberal win come Election Day. The repercussions will be immediate and varied: a hardening of the government's attitude toward free trade (in favor of protectionism on behalf of South Korean farmers, who have gotten used to overpricing their goods thanks to a general lack of competition with foreign products); a softening of North Korean foreign policy and a return to kowtowing to Pyongyang; an open-arms approach to South Korean labor unions, whose violent demonstrations in places like Ulsan hold the Korean economy hostage (just as French labor unions do in France).

It's gonna be great!


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