Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Are we all holding our breath to see whether Lee Myeong-bak wins big today?

On the assumption that Korea's next president will be a conservative, I'm hoping that this will signify a sea change in US-ROK relations. But with Korean politics being the impenetrable, Byzantine thing it is, nothing is guaranteed. If Lee is already the subject of scandal investigations, and if Noh Mu-hyeon has already been impeached (remember that?), then it's possible that Lee will be in for a very rocky term.

I was thinking about this while in the taxi yesterday: South Korea is a bit like a bowstring that's been pulled tight and let go: tugged to one extreme (authoritarianism, dictatorship), zinging to another extreme (democratically elected, over-liberal presidents), and vibrating ever more weakly from extreme to extreme until it finally reaches a happy medium (civil transfer of power, no fistfights in the National Assembly). An optimistic vision, to be sure, but I think things will continue to change for the better in the years to come.


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