Although the April 15 general election in South Korea is only one month away, it is nearly impossible to predict the outcome.
This is a surprising state of affairs. President Moon Jae In has galvanized the conservative opposition in the Republic of Korea (ROK), and has also alienated many independents who are swelling the conservative ranks. And yet, the conservative opposition seems to be splintering, even as Moon is driving new recruits into their ranks.
Under the revised electoral system, new political parties continue to be founded. One example is the Pro-Park New Party (PNP), now officially recognized by the South Korean National Election Committee. The support for change shown by this new party, and by many other conservatives in the South, may also seem to signal a nostalgia for the political past.
The Moon Effect: ‘Creative Destruction’
In fact, South Korean conservatives are not as divided as they might appear. Indeed, while parties are multiplying, the opposition to Moon is coalescing.
“In reality,” said Hong Moon Jong, a four-term national assemblyman and leader of the PNP, “this is one of the cases which we can safely call ‘creative destruction.’”
Hong continued, “Totalitarian forces are engulfing the Korean peninsula and we need a political party that can succeed and implement the political philosophy of President Park Geun Hye, who strove to free the country from totalitarianism.”
As the name of the party indicates, the PNP supports the policies of President Park Geun Hye, who was railroaded into prison after a show trial in 2017, and Park’s father, Park Chung Hee, who was the leader of South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s.
Waking Up to the China Threat
But Moon Jae In and domestic totalitarianism are not the only things worrying South Koreans this election cycle. “China, not domestic politics, will be the main factor in the upcoming general election,” said Hong.
South Koreans have been waking up to the gravity of the threat posed by China.
If the harm of the Wuhan virus, which can be avoided only by limiting the scope of physical contact, is causing such a global pandemic, how dangerous is China’s totalitarianism that is harming us spiritually? Many are beginning to wonder.
Meanwhile, Chinagate is also beginning to gain attention. The suspicion that China has been using Korean Chinese (ethnic Koreans born in China) to manipulate South Korean public opinion in favor of China has deepened such that, on March 12, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office assigned the case to the Criminal Section 1 to begin an investigation.
As the evidence of Chinagate comes to light, it is likely to deal a heavy blow to the Moon regime, whose admiration of China and its socialism is widely known.
Is Moon Jae In a Budding Authoritarian?
During a speech at Beijing University in 2017, Moon commented that Korea was a small country, but that it would join “China’s aspirations.” No one seems to know for sure how Moon defines the term “China’s aspirations.” However, one thing is clear — he wants to emulate China’s ruthless violation of the rights of its people who stand up to tyranny.
The highest-profile example is his treatment of President Park Geun Hye. During a recent interview with Lawrence Peck of One Korea News Network in Hawaii, I made the case for the release of President Park, the first victim of Moon Jae In’s tyranny. (See the interview here on YouTube.)
I also made the case for strengthening the Japan-ROK partnership as the key to holding up democracy and freedom in Northeast Asia, and for opposing the forces of totalitarianism. We must always remember that a government’s treatment of its own people is an indication of its intentions to the rest of the world.
This is true for South Korea as much as for anywhere else, and Moon Jae In is a substantial threat to the values shared by democratic states like Japan, the United States, and the ROK.
Outbreak Presents a Chance to Renew Japan-ROK Relations
We live in a tough neighborhood, and the ongoing virus outbreak has reminded South Koreans who our foes and friends really are.
Throughout history, South Korea has swung between the sides of continental nations and maritime nations. The last 70 years of freedom and prosperity have been possible because we were on the side of maritime nations — Japan and the U.S.
President Park was a staunch supporter of the Japan-ROK alliance. President Park Chung Hee’s 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was South Korea’s first public declaration to the world that the two nations’ common path lay in the future, not in the past. President Park Geun Hye’s 2015 Comfort Women Agreement with Japan was a reconfirmation of the fact.
When South Koreans are friendly with Japan, we are more like our true selves, open and free. This is the future we must build, for security in the Pacific, and also for peace in East Asia.
This is also what is at stake in the upcoming April elections. Will South Koreans stick with the authoritarianism of a China-minded Moon Jae In, or will they choose increased freedom, democracy, and human rights by standing with Japan?
Author: By Hanjin Lew