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Moon, the stars and us

Mar 15,2017
Sohn Hye-won of the main opposition Minjoo Party, working on the election camp for Moon Jae-in in an internet broadcasting program, claimed former President Roh Moo-hyun had “calculated” the action of taking his own life.

“(Roh’s suicide) was calculated. He had said everything would stop here if I leave,” Sohn said. Roh jumped to his death in May 2009 from a mountain cliff behind his home after retiring from the presidency, and amid an investigation into his alleged taking of bribes. Sohn’s comment drew condemnation from many who still are devoted to the former president, accusing Moon and his campaign team of using Roh’s misfortune to their benefit. Sohn apologized for the comment, made “out of ignorance,” and resigned from the PR team at the election camp. Moon, a friend and former chief of staff of the deceased president, said it was a “very inappropriate statement.”

The vulgarity of adding disgrace to the tragic end of a former president is condemnable, but Sohn, formerly from the ad industry, is not the only person among Moon’s recruited crew who has come under fire for controversial comments. This raises questions about Moon and his camp’s judgment on the people they court.

Rep. Pyo Chang-won, a former professor at the National Police University who was recruited by Moon ahead of last year’s general election, Chun In-bum, former Special Warfare Command Commander tapped as national security advisor for Moon, former Unification Minister Chung Se-hyun who joined an advisory group for the Minjoo Party, and former Samsung Electronics executive Yang Hyang-ja all caused controversy and had to either leave or receive disciplinary action after making public apologies.

Moon has been announcing new recruits every day. The list goes over 1,000. Bringing in outside expertise is good. But many professors, former bureaucrats and lawyers appear to be gathering around him for questionable motives. His recruits are causing controversy partly because of his exhibitionist parade of star experts who support him.

The random and showy lineup is a legacy of an outdated political practice that must be done away with. An aspirant to become a national leader must first present a reliable vision for the country he wants to build. Moon cannot earn faith from the broader population if his choice of people leads him to be sneered at by his own party members.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 14, Page 30