Can Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon save South Korea from its Political Crisis?

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Sunday, January 8th, 2017
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Jung Yeon-tae, Chairman of the Innovation Forum for Nation

Ban Ki-moon former United Nations Secretary General recently declared his bid for the South Korean presidency. What will this mean to the country?

To answer this question, it would be prudent to look at the historical role of a leader.

On June 25, 1950 at 4:00 a.m., North Korean soldiers, heavily armed with tanks and artillery, invaded South Korea. At the time, South Korean President Syngman Rhee had returned home after studying in the U.S. and leading Korea’s independence movement from overseas. To have studied in the U.S. and to have had his type of overseas experience were extraordinary at the time and rare, indeed.
In retrospect, these experiences, proved to be pivotal in the efforts to block the North Korean threat.

Immediately after the outbreak of the Korean War, then U.S. President Harry S. Truman convened the U.N. Security Council, where a vote was passed to dispatch U.N. troops. On June 28, three days after the outbreak of the war, the U.S. Army was the first to be dispatched to South Korea under the aegis of the U.N. Forces.

Despite the ROK’s own lack of preparations, the UN was able not only to arrive at a swift decision to send UN troops but decisive action to get UN troops onto Korean soil – all within a three day timeframe.

This was due to Syngman Rhee’s active entreaties for help, made possible by his highly developed communication network – his English abilities for one thing and his close ties with his administration’s counterparts in the U.S. for another.

Without U.N. military intervention, the existence of today’s South Korea would be implausible.
In any crisis, then, a country’s leader decides the fate of the nation and with it the lives of its people by what that leader can offer. Former U.N. Secretary General Ban’s international networks and personal connections are invaluable to the security of this nation, and even from this standpoint alone, he has a great deal to offer. In fact, the combined human asset of all of the ten presidential candidates is not half of the human asset accumulated by the former Secretary General during his ten years on the global stage. The effect generated immediately after finishing his tenure is expected to be even greater.

It would be in South Korea’s interests to fully seize the advantages afforded by a well-connected leader.

Former Secretary General Ban is also in a position to alleviate some of Korea’s economic woes.

Korea’s close-knit alliance with the U.S. is more important than ever in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election victory. Considering China’s tacit support for North Korea’s nuclear and missile development capabilities, there is little evidence to suggest that Seoul and Beijing’s relationship will be anything but difficult. Certainly, China will use South Korea’s plans for THAAD deployment by way of self-defense to justify intensifying pressure on the South Korean economy. Moreover, Korea’s relationship with Japan has been uneasy of late.
The global trend of trade protectionism is also an ever-present threat to South Korea.

In order to mitigate these difficulties, it is clearly necessary for South Korea to reduce its economic dependency on China and diversify its market through international exchanges with Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Unfortunately, the current pool of presidential candidates from within Korea seems to lack any differentiating abilities.

In this country’s present economic and security turmoil, any candidate whose policies are entrenched in the past and current political whirlpool is bound to fail.

Career politicians in Korea with long political careers have engaged in political party strife without any change for the better, much to the people’s dismay. To make things worse, some have tried to strip away political power, worsening the national economy and disappointing the people.

Some career politicians, for personal gain, have even tried to slander the former Secretary General with ungrounded rumors by alleging that their claims were part of a legitimate vetting process. These sorts of attacks are akin to diminishing the value of a country’s valuable property.

Now, the Korean people need to open their eyes. For the good of South Korea and its people, there is a need to take in the wider view; that is, to select global talent and exclude men of limited scope.

Considering the present crisis in South Korea, Ban Ki-moon is armed with valuable experience and ability. In particular, he is able to take an active role in leading and fostering international communication and exchanges to resolve some of Korea’s most pressing foreign relations and economic issues.

Korean history has not produced such a talent.

A new future can be had only by discarding the existing self-interested political circles and obsolete and closed political system. It is through the intrinsic values espoused by former Secretary General Ban that the people of Korea can look towards a brighter future.

 

 

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