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Finding a breakthrough

July 17,2019
We welcome a meeting President Moon Jae-in agreed to have on Thursday with leaders of four opposition parties in the Blue House. Given the deepening discord over Japan’s restrictions on three key materials needed to produce semiconductors and displays in Korea and the prolonged standoff over fast-tracking sensitive bills, our politicians desperately needed such a multipartite platform to tackle a plethora of challenges.

The meeting was made possible after President Moon accepted main opposition Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn’s proposal for a multilateral meeting rather than a one-on-one meeting with the president. We appreciate Hwang’s determination to cooperate with the government without being stubborn about the format of the meeting. We hope they hammer out substantial solutions to many tricky issues at home and abroad.

Moon himself must first listen. The Blue House and ruling Democratic Party have disappointed the public by taking an emotional approach to Tokyo’s export curbs for two weeks without trying to find effective ways to cope with them. Moon defined Japan’s retaliatory action as “an effort to thwart our economic growth.” But the issue cannot be addressed by sentimental rhetoric or nationalism bordering on a plea for an anti-Japanese movement.

Moon must borrow “collective intelligence” from opposition leaders to maximize our national interests. Considering the shameful incompetence of the foreign affairs and security corps and a critical lack of military discipline as seen in the recent penetration of a North Korean vessel, the president must accept opposition leaders’ demand for the resignation of Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo. We urge Moon to preside over the meeting in a substantive — and concerted — way to prepare for the challenges the country faces.

At the same time, he must allow opposition leaders to express their opinions without any constraints. If the Blue House attempts to limit their speaking time to three minutes as it did in the president’s meeting with 30 major corporate leaders earlier this month, it will only be a laughing stock. The ruling and opposition parties must use the Blue House meeting — the first of its kind in 16 months — as an opportunity to stabilize our politics. Despite the urgent need to resolve all the conflicts over the rearrangement of investigative rights between the prosecution and the police, as well as the passing of a supplementary budget bill, mutual distrust is deepening in political circles. We hope the meeting offers a clue to putting our politics back on track.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 17, Page 30