Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The passing of another South Korean President

I was saddened to hear that President Kim Dae Jung, who I believe to probably have been South Koreas most successful, civilian president has passed away. President Park Chung Hee would I believe still claim that prize on the grounds of putting into place policies first providing for sustained economic growth, including the normalization of ties with Japan (1965) and its accompanying economics dividends.
"I came here because I wanted to see you." — Statement to the North Korean people upon arriving in Pyongyang in June 2000 for the first inter-Korean summit.
But, I believe history too will judge the presidency of Kim Dae Jung in a similarly controversial, yet benign light. I mean, while a central and noble figure in South Korea s fight (and I mean this in a very literal, physical form of the word) towards a democratic form of government, his presidency was marred by the $500 million that has been shown to have been given to North Korea in exchange for the summit.

Yet, at the same time, he introduced economic reforms, after the IMF bailout in 1997, that not only broke apart several conglomerates or jaebols that during the IMF period, which ironically were first adopted during the Park Chung Hee Era, but which resided over a period where Korea experienced a sharp and very rapid economic recovery.

I feel that it is unfortunate that he became President so late as many of the statements that Kim Dae Jung made in recent years made many treat his words a bit lightly. I d say it s like the wise, but aged grandfather figure type of treatment particularly with respect to how the domestic press in that country covered him. An example would be his very public disagreement with curent South Korean President Lee Myung Bak this year.

I will be on vacation for the remainder of the week.

No comments:

Post a Comment