새로운 대통령, 새로운 희망
[아시아엔=에디 수프랍토 인도네시아 <RCTI방송> 전 보도본부장, AJA 차기회장]?2017년 3월 10일 박근혜 전 대통령이 임기를 1년 가까이 남기고 대통령직에서 물러났다. 국회의원 300명 중 234명의 탄핵안 찬성으로 대통령 권한이 정지된 박 전 대통령은 이날 헌법재판소의 판결로 불명예스럽게 대통령직에서 물러난 첫번째 대통령이 됐다.
그리고 60일 뒤인 5월 9일 문재인 후보가 대통령에 당선됐다. 인권변호사 출신으로 국회의원과 대통령비서실장을 역임한 문재인 후보가 당선됐다. 그는 2012년 대선에서 아깝게 패배했으나 라이벌이던 안철수 후보와 홍준표 후보를 따돌리고 대한민국 제19대 대통령직에 올랐다.
경제개혁과 한반도 통일
새 대통령은 한국의 경제문제를 풀기 위해 상당한 정도의 개혁을 감행해야 한다. 문재인 새 대통령은 경제개혁과 관련해 가장 확실한 태도를 보이고 있다. 그는 검찰개혁 및 재벌문제에 대해서도 손을 댈 것으로 보인다. 한국사회에선 언론의 변화도 요구되고 있다. 문재인 후보는 재벌그룹의 정치와의 관계 즉 정경유착을 끊겠다고 공약했다. 그는 특히 투명한 정부를 국민들에게 약속했다.
문 대통령은 통일문제 등 대북협상도 재개할 가능성이 높다. 그는 박 전 대통령의 대북 강경 일변도에서 탈피해 강온양면 전략을 구사할 것으로 전망된다. 그는 북한 핵문제를 해결하기 위해서 어느 곳에서 누구하고든 대화를 하겠다고 말했다. 그는 한때 미국을 방문하기 전에 북한의 김정은을 만날 수도 있다고 말해 논란이 일기도 했다.
문 대통령은 일본에 대해서는 강경입장을 유지하고 있다. 그는 박근혜 전 대통령과 아베 일본 수상 사이에 체결된 위안부 문제 합의에 강력히 반대하고 있다. 위안부 문제와 관련해 문재인 후보는 일본의 공식사과와 법적 책임을 묻고 그에 따라 재협상을 바라고 있다.
한반도 통일과 관련해 문 당선자는 기회와 부담을 동시에 짊어지고 있다. 만일 그의 대통령 재임 중 남북한 통일이 이뤄지거나 통일 직전단계까지 이를 수 있다면 그는 ‘통일대통령’으로 길이 남을 것이다. 통일 한국은 동북아 지역의 세력균형에도 상당부분 기여하게 될 것이다. 북한의 싼 인건비와 풍부한 자원이 남한의 테크놀로지 및 자본과 만나게 되면 엄청난 경제적 폭발력을 지니게 된다. 일각에선 2050년경 한국의 경제가 일본을 뛰어넘을 것이라는 전망도 한다. 이같은 전망에 물론 동의하지 않는 사람들도 상당수 있다. 하지만 모든 것은 변화하는 법이다. 한국 국민들은 비상상황에서 탄생한 새 대통령에게 적지 않은 기대와 희망을 동시에 걸고 있다.
New president new hope
by Eddy Suprapto
After four years in office, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached on March 10, 2017. Park’s powers were suspended after 234 of parliament’s 300 members voted to impeach her, meaning more than 60 members of her own party backed the motion against her. The impeachment, which had to be reviewed and approved by the Constitutional Court within 180 days to officially remove Park from office, set the stage for her to become the country’s first elected leader to be ousted in disgrace.
By law, the country must elect a new president within 60 days of the ruling and major political parties have announced schedules for primary races to select their candidates.
On May 9, South Korea will elect a new President. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is serving as acting president, announced the date of the election. He also said that he would not run for the job, choosing to focus instead on his role as acting president during the transition period. Meanwhile, South Korea’s centrist People’s Party on April 4 chose Ahn Cheol-soo as its nominee for the presidential election, with hopes of uniting conservatives and moderates to give the liberal front-runner, Moon, a tough race.
Opinion surveys say liberal opposition leader, Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2012 election to Park, is the favorite to win. Moon’s resignation calls have been echoed by the main opposition Democratic (Minjoo) Party and other politicians who have hardened their stance since hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Gwanghuamun Square to denounce the President in the nation’s biggest protests.
The South Korean presidential frontrunner is Moon Jae-in, a civil-rights lawyer who was a former legislator and onetime presidential Chief-of-Staff. Moon lost narrowly in 2012 but currently leads by a substantial margin over the field of five candidates in which his nearest rival is the more conservative Ahn Cheol-soo, a tech entrepreneur. Ahn developed an antivirus software that he distributed for free, earning him the nickname “the Bill Gates of South Korea.” He entered the 2012 presidential race as an independent and became a political sensation, but was ultimately unable to overtake the traditional conservative and liberal blocs.
Moon Jae-in has widened his lead in the polls, making him the favorite candidate for the May 9 early presidential election. Moon has garnered about 37-39 percent of the voters eligible for the May 9 election, reflecting a 1 to 3 percent rise since the last two weeks, according to the latest polls. Meanwhile, center-left candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, has fallen by four points in the previous 15 days, amounting to between 26 and 30 percent of the eligible voters. Recent surveys suggest that the third-most popular candidate, Hong Joon-pyo, from Park Geun-hye’s party, would garner only around 7-9 percent of the eligible votes.
Reformation economic and reunification
The Korean economy kicked into higher gear after sluggish growth in the second half of 2016, shrugging off concerns of an economic fallout following months of domestic political turmoil.
Unlike the external sector, domestic growth is expected to remain subdued, burdened by high household debt. Nonetheless, a likely Liberal party victory in May is expected to usher in a new era of expansionary fiscal policymaking, which will bode well for near-term growth prospects. Expect GDP to expand 2.4% in 2017, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast. In 2018, the economy will grow 2.6%.
Still, Korea’s private sector is in need of economic reformation. The new President must have in mind dramatic changes to the economic system to better living conditions for each and every citizen. Moon Jae-in, one of the candidates with a relatively lucid plan for economic reformation, is running on a progressive platform. He is calling for change in the legal system, big business, media, and elsewhere. He has promised to focus on the Samsung group and three other conglomerates as he looks to break up the cozy ties between politicians and the corporate world, and to introduce a more democratic and transparent government.
Moon is also pro-reunification with North Korea. He has also denounced Park’s hard-line policy on North Korea, which sought to change Pyongyang’s behavior through economic sanctions and military pressure. He has offered to go anywhere and speak with anyone to resolve the nuclear impasse, and said he would even meet with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un before visiting the United States.
Moon reserve the hawkish side of his leadership for Japan. He staunchly opposes a 2015 deal between South Korea and Japan designed to put the issue of wartime “comfort women” to rest. He wants to renegotiate the accord to include an official apology from Japan and touch on Japan’s legal responsibility in the matter.
Hopefully, if Moon is made President, unification will become a reality for the benefit of the international arena. A unified Korea could have great implications for the balance of power in the region, with South Korea already considered by many a regional power. Reunification would give access to cheap labor and abundant natural resources in the North, which, combined with existing technology and capital in the South, would create large economic and military growth potential. Korea could have an economy larger than that of Japan by 2050. A unified Korean military would have the largest number of reservists as well as one of the largest numbers of military hackers. In light of all this, the next President will provide the path for a new and rejuvenated Korea.