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The new president’s challenges

May 10,2017
A new president of South Korea has been elected. It is the time for the president and the people to put the emotional roller coaster behind us and get the troubled nation back on track.

As the 19th presidential election was a snap election held after the impeachment and ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, the new president cannot afford the sweet taste of victory. Given a myriad of grave challenges facing the nation, our new leader must be strong.

The new president must demonstrate wisdom to overcome our crises. The current reality of South Korea is even grimmer than during the foreign exchange crisis in 1997. At the time, then President-elect Kim Dae-jung pleaded with the people to restore pride in our country. The people faithfully followed him despite his narrow margin of victory — a mere 1.6 percent — in the election to surmount the contingency in a united way.

The new president must show such integral leadership to help the nation recover from the acute division seen in the massive rallies held by those supporting the presidential impeachment and those opposing it. This president must stitch up the wounds our nations has suffered during these past months.

We hope the new president will begin a new era for the nation, starting with presidential messages, appointments, policies and communication with the National Assembly. As France’s President-elect Emmanuel Macron said after his triumph, our new president, too, must respect the anger and despair of his opponents.

The new president must not repeat the mistake of previous president’s lopsided appointment styles, which involved drawing from her inner circle. Already paralyzed top government posts must be filled, including that of the prime minister, and senior presidential aides, including the chief of staff, as soon as possible. Under a majority opposition in the legislature, the new president also must respect cooperation — or even coalition — with opposition lawmakers to smoothly run the government. At times like this, what matters most is a leader’s smooth communication with legislators.

But the most important job for the new president is easing our growing security and economic concerns. Our leader must pay heed to maintaining our alliance with the United States and must be careful to not deplete our government coffers by trying too hard to boost the economy.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 10, Page 30