ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on December 5th, 2012 at 8:22 am

Park Geun-hye and North Korean Stooge Go At It During First South Korean Presidential Debate

Tom Coyner in the Korea Economic Reader has some good commentary on the recent Korean presidential debate:

It’s a CAT FIGHT!!  Meow!  Phhhht! Hissss! Hisss!

Wow!  What a night!  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 poise and tact of 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 is 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 counter attack, though not as aggressive or as articulate as Lee.  Park came across as the least capable of the three, often looking at her notes, for which she is famous.

In any event, both Lee and Park more or less ignored Moon, as much as the rules of the debate would  allow.  Moon seemed like an uncle, caught between two scrabbling women,  whose thoughts and suggestions were largely given lip service and ignored.  Ironically, though Lee was there to attack Park and presumably increase Moon’s chances for election, she probably hurt Moon more than helped him.

According to Korean blog posts, there was a sympathy reaction for Park and a negative reaction towards Moon who was not able to raise himself above the on-stage ruckus.  Lee, outside of her extremist radical fringe, did nothing to further her cause other than to remarkably raise her notoriety.  Newest polling numbers may tell a different story, but before the debate, she was polling only 0.4% support.

Many older Koreans are disgusted that Lee was included in the debate given her inconsequential standing and her pulling the level of debate down from a better comparison between the major parties to a political harangue from the left of the Establishment and Ms. Park’s past.

There will be more of the same tonight on YTN television.  Stay tuned!

Here is a translation of some more of the rhetoric from Lee Jung-hee from the Marmot’s Hole:

- On corruption:  “Ms. Park spoke of stamping out political corruption. I can hardly believe it, since it comes from someone who maintained her status by receiving salaries derived from stolen goods. Former president Chun Doo-hwan paid Ms. Park KRW 600 million; at the time, you could purchase thirty apartment buildings with that kind of money, and it was the money that Park Chung-hee’s Yushin dictatorship received from chaebols. The Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation, of which Ms. Park was a chair of the board, is stolen goods that former president Park Chung-hee extorted from Kim Ji-tae.  . . .  NFP has so much corruption, but it cuts off its tail to protect Ms. Park’s poll numbers. Would Ms. Park promise the people to immediately resign from presidency if someone close to her received bribes?”

- On diplomacy:  “The foundation of diplomacy is to protect the nation’s sovereignty. Takagi Masao, whose Korean name was Park Chung-hee, became the Japanese army officer by writing a letter of loyalty in blood. After the independence, he came to power through a coup d’etat and rammed through the Korea-Japan Basic Treaty. He wielded the iron fist of the Yushin dictatorship. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Ms. Park and the NFP — the descendants of Japanese collaboration and dictatorship — sold out Korea’s economic sovereignty by ramming through the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. They do not deserve to sing the National Anthem.”

You can read more translations at the link.

After reading all the various articles about the debate I still do not understand why Lee Jung-hee was included in this debate when she is not even polling 1% of the vote?  Is she just there to represent North Korea as part of the debates?

As far as Moon Jae-in he seems to be a more polished Roh Moo-hyun the more I listen to him.  Here is a statement he made about North Korea that I just find ridiculous:

Frontrunner Park was conservative on North Korea, saying that “trust building” between the Koreas was needed. She said there were no conditions for talks or humanitarian aid, and that a summit was possible.

Moon said he would follow through with the agreement reached in 2007 after a summit between the two Koreas.

Lee blamed the Lee Myung-bak government for bad relations on the peninsula and said Park shared the blame.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Really it is Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye’s fault that a North Korean soldier shot a ROK woman walking on the beach in the back?  It is also their fault that the North Koreans held a ROK citizen hostage at the Kaesong Industrial Complex?  Is it also their fault that North Korea murdered 46 sailors serving on the Cheonan?  And finally is it Park and Lee’s fault that the North Korean launched an artillery barrage against Yeonpyeong Island killing two ROK soldiers?  So in spite of all these provocations Moon wants to reward the North Koreans?

Anyway it should be interesting to see how the other debates turn out.

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  • Frankie says Relax
    11:22 pm on December 5th, 2012 1

    Lee Jung-hee reminded everyone watching how insane the UPP and DUP party positions stand when it comes to dealing with North Korea. I suspect that Moon was hoping to appear “above it all” when, in fact, he looked lost in space. The fact is that Lee and Moon raised no issues that would generate excitement with voters.
    What makes little sense is that those harsh statements against Park will only appeal to those who opposed Park in the first place. The UPP and DUP would do better to talk about classic liberal issues like economic fairness and perhaps education reform. But, instead, they want to bring up issues that should have been settled decades ago. Plus, their anti-Americanism makes them look ugly and spiteful. Park should be enjoying this as she edges closer to victory every day.

  • Yorgo
    12:37 am on December 6th, 2012 2

    Gotta admit, I’m not sure if the folks in Kyungsamnamdo care about this stuff or not, but if the money from jeon doo hwan is true, then it looks bad.

    Like I said, I’m not really sure if anyone pro-park actually cares though.

  • Teadrinker
    5:55 am on December 6th, 2012 3

    “Is she just there to represent North Korea as part of the debates?”

    Unhappy that her accusations against Park are correct? She did get a small fortune from a dictator (she admitted it on the spot) and the “scholarship foundation” she “managed” is money her father acquired through illicit means.

  • Teadrinker
    5:56 am on December 6th, 2012 4

    …Basically, the two leading candidates stink.

  • Tom
    6:25 am on December 6th, 2012 5

    “Plus, their anti-Americanism makes them look ugly and spiteful.”

    Ahhhh…. that’s what it’s all about… :lol: If they praised and supported the US policies, I’m sure the tune will be different. :lol:

  • Claire
    11:13 pm on December 6th, 2012 6

    3- Yawn, what else is new. Park’s history has been studied and examined and gone over many times and there are no surprises. Ties to her father’s regime and his cronies surprise you? You would probably find the same baggage tied any candidate that’s been around Korean politics for 4 decades. At least her campaign promises make sense. She sounds like a fiscal moderate and a foreign policy conservative. That would fit well with most voters.
    Besides, what does Moon have to offer as an alternative? What issues has he stressed that have resonated with Korean voters? All he offers is Roh, Round 2. Is that what anyone wants? Even the people who dislike Park have to dread another round of Roh-style malaise.

  • Jeremy
    1:41 am on December 9th, 2012 7

    1 – I agree. For all of the claims of left-progressivism from the UPP and DUP, the only thing both really care about is pushing nationalism (which isn’t exactly progressive).

    5 – Whereas you would have condemned them if they praised and supported U.S. policies.

  • Teadrinker
    4:58 am on December 9th, 2012 8


    Missed comment #4?

  • The presidential election: a fascinating race (part 3) | London Korean Links
    11:01 pm on December 14th, 2012 9

    [...] first debate on 4th December has been humorously described as a ‘catfight’ between favourite Park and very distant 3rd placed Lee Jung-hee of the left-wing United Progressive [...]

  • Looking back at 2012: Domestic news | London Korean Links
    11:02 pm on January 25th, 2013 10

    [...] the two remaining candidates plus far-left outsider Lee Jung-hee of the Unified Progressive Party turned into a catfight between her and Park [...]


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