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Here come the zombies

Mar 14,2017
Moody’s Investors Service on Monday cited the Constitutional Court’s ruling Friday upholding President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment by the National Assembly for abuse of power as a positive factor in Korea’s sovereign credit rating. As the Kospi index soared to 2,120, Samsung Electronics’ stock price topped 2.04 million won ($1,779) per share. Despite deepening concerns about our economy from confrontations between the pro-Park and anti-Park groups, the local market showed a positive reaction probably because all the uncertainties were finally cleared up after the court’s ruling.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president, will most likely fix our next presidential election schedule within this week followed by heated nomination contests in the Democratic Party, Liberty Korea Party (formerly the ruling party), People’s Party and Bareun Party. They will elect their presidential nominees through national conventions from March 28 to April 9 after going through stump speeches, policy forums and television debates. Despite the seemingly orderly process, however, the election stage is still crowded with former president Park’s “ghosts.”

After she said Sunday that the truth will someday prevail — rather than humbly accepting and respecting the court’s decision — her core loyalists, including former head of the ruling party Suh Chung-won, decided to form a group of political aides even after the impeachment. Buoyed by their former boss’ suggestion that she does not really accept the court’s ruling, they are trying to rally themselves as a new political force. In fact, they were a major contributor to the ruling party’s crushing defeat in last April’s general election and to the massive candlelight vigils in central Seoul that demanded Park step down. In a nutshell, they were sentenced to political death by the court of public opinion.

Of course, Park can take action to prepare for any criminal investigation against her. But we wonder about the former president’s motive in protesting her removal. Given such obstinate reactions from her loyalists, Park seems to be bracing for the resumption of political activities, or to wield influence on the presidential election while hiding in her home in southern Seoul. That can be sarcastically dubbed “zombie politics” by a now nearly defunct political group.

If Park’s zombie politics continue, Korea will head into another round of division in the lead-up to the presidential election. Genuine issues such as national security, economic revitalization, jobs, welfare and the ever-widening wealth polarization will all be sucked into a black hole. Our politics cannot afford such a gloomy fate. All presidential contenders, political parties and the people must be alert to avert it.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 14, Page 30