Moon: Healing wounds of Korean separation

Dhaka,  Sun,  23 July 2017
Published : 12 May 2017, 19:20:15
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Moon: Healing wounds of Korean separation

Maswood Alam Khan
Modern history has not witnessed countries as divided as they are today. And the good news is a new wave is surging around the world inspiring people to choose leaders who can unify their divided people.

Emmanuel Macron of France has been chosen by the French the other day and Moon Jae-in is just elected by the South Korean as leaders who are capable of unifying their divided people. The 64-year-old human rights lawyer, known for his liberal views, Mr. Moon has vowed to plug up the chasm that has divided his country, a country which has been reeling from a corruption scandal that saw his predecessor ignobly impeached.

Impeaching a sitting president is, otherwise, a glorious example that would inspire hope among downtrodden people of many other countries in the world who are still being bulldozed by corrupt and autocratic regimes.

Though Mr. Moon was expected to win the election held on Tuesday, the results are pleasant surprises. Moon, the Democratic Party candidate, took 41.1 per cent of the vote, while conservative candidate Hong Joon-pyo took 25.5 per cent. Centrist AhnCheol-soo, who had been widely seen as a strong contender, came third with 21.4 per cent.

Addressing his supporters on Tuesday night, Mr Moon said: "I will serve all South Koreans and build a just, united country".

South Koreans are confident Mr. Moon will shore up their fragile economy and in a departure from current policy of belligerence he will peruse a fruitful diplomacy in order to diffuse the present tension in Korean peninsula by way of increasing contacts with Chinese and North Korean leaderships. 

Mr. Moon's background and messages resonate with the common people of South Korea. Son of refugees from North Korea, Mr. Moon has spent most of his career to uphold human rights, advocate greater dialogues with the North, reform South Korea's family-run conglomerates--known as chaebols--and endured jail terms for leading protests against military ruler Park Chung-hee, the now-impeached president Ms. Park Geun-hye's father.

Mr. Moon's victory and Ms Park's impeachment at around the same time come as a strange turn of fate. Mr. Moon, who in his infanthood was strapped to his mother's back while she sold eggs to make ends meet, who in his adulthood spent time in jail for protesting against the father of Ms. Park Geun-hye, is now set to lead the country, while Ms. Park Geun-hye is now the one behind the bars, awaiting trial on charges of corruption! Ms. Park denies the charges.

South Koreans have chosen Mr. Moon to save them from threats outside of their country as the two previous conservative administrations miserably failed to stop North Korea's weapons development. Mr. Moon will, however, find it tricky to manage tense relations with North Korea, which continues to defy UN sanctions with its continual missile tests. But his priority would be issues related to corruption, unemployment, and economy, with youth unemployment stubbornly high. 

South Korea's corruption scandal is nothing new. Not only Park Gun-hye is implicated in corruption charges. Some of the biggest family-run companies like Samsung, Lotte, SK and many other government offices are under watch.

South Korea is known as a safe country for tourists. Democracy is deeply rooted in the soil. You can leave your wallet or your camera on a table of a restaurant in the country in full confidence that they will not be stolen. But, surprisingly most of the previous presidents and many family-owned conglomerates have been spoiled by corruption.

South Korea apparently looks like one of the smart and honest countries on the planet; but clouds of corruption almost always hovered over its powerhouses. It seems like a country with honest people at the bottom and with dishonest ones (mainly in politics and business) at the top. The needle of moral compass moves in different directions in different echelons of South Korean societies.

South Korea is a good friend and an excellent development partner of Bangladesh for a long time since our liberation. Bilateral relations between these two countries cover a wide range of areas that include trade, investment, infrastructure development, human resource development, and science and technology. The country is an attractive destination for manpower export of Bangladesh. The growth (more than 125 per cent per year) of export to South Korea from Bangladesh has been phenomenal.

Mr. Moon has soft spot for North Korea. He would be the last person to ignite a conflict that will kill or injure Koreans in the South or in the North. In a book released recently, Mr. Moon intoned he still dreamed of returning to his parent's North Korean home town, Hungnam. "I was thinking I wanted to finish my life there in Hungnam doing pro bono service," he wrote. "When peaceful reunification comes, the first thing I want to do is to take my 90-year-old mother and go to her home town." he made a poignant pledge.

Mankind is horribly divided into rich and poor, the world is divided between North and South and sometimes East and West; religion is divided by how differently to pray to the same God and leaders are divided as advocates of democracy and proponents of autocracy. Behind the veil of superficiality and hypocrisy of the leaders, human beings are passing through an atrocious history of enmity and bloodshed. In such a crossroads the planet needs statesmen who can right the wrong. Let's see how Macron of France and Moon of South Korea fare in this divided world.

maswood@hotmail.com

 
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