Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Political Left And Right In Korea

In the recent Pastoral Bulletin one of the diocesan priests had a humorous black and white caricature of the difference between the left and right in Korean politics. It would be for some a slander but also not without a basis in reality.

The right is interested in financial well being. A friendly atmosphere for business, doing away with obstacles for their success; lessen the taxes of the rich, flexibility with labor, making it easy to fire workers. Government stays out of labor disputes as much as possible. They want a small government. Moreover, the things that have to do with the citizenry for the most part , health insurance, mass media, electricity, gas etc. they want to put in the hands of the private sector. If big business and the rich do well we all do well.

This is the strategy that we have had in England and the United States with the results we have seen in recent years.

The left is for distribution and equality. Tax money has to be well distributed. Citizens to live well, the government has to distribute the tax monies evenly. Welfare for the poor requires the concern of the government. Tax benefits not only for the rich but for the ordinary citizen. This requires positive regulations by the government. This effort to help the masses live the good life is the aim of the left.

From Chosun times, for the last 200 years Europe has been in the hands of the left. Citizens when sick can go to the hospital, the government provides childcare, and education. The old get a pension to enjoy their life. To have these benefits they have to pay exorbitant taxes, especially the rich. All have to be resigned to sacrifice.

How was this brought about? It was built on the foundation of 200o years of Christianity. Catholics and Protestants working in the field of welfare and the attempt at living the Christian life has brought this about in Europe. The teachings of the ancestors has made this the reality.

Those of us who have been baptized where are our hearts? Is it not that we have followed the ways of the world? Are we willing to sacrifice and pay taxes so that all of us can live well? If we look into this carefully we can see that this is more in keeping with the Gospel. In Korea those who are opting for this kind of government are looked upon as Communists and he blames past Presidents Syngman Rhee and Park Chung-hee.

In the States stereotypically the Democrats are considered as the left and Republicans as the right. The Democrats want more government regulations and interested mostly with social issues. The Republicans want few regulations and more concerned with moral issues. In Korea the political parties are not known by the ordinary citizens, to have these obvious differences.