Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Park Chung-hee Legacy

To continue what Sean mentioned earlier, it seems that South Korea is on a mission lately to open up issues from the Park Chung-hee era. I read an article last week that talked about a special commission publishing the names of the judges who were involved in judicially implementing Park's laws and upholding his actions. Several of those people are currently sitting on the Korean Supreme Court and are judges in other courts. This was controversial as the judges argued that they weren't really involved in the proceedings, they were junior judges at the time, they had no choice, etc.

Another editorial I read mentioned the recent court case that declared the eight people who were executed in the 1975 "People’s Revolutionary Party Reconstruction Committee" case as not guilty. The interesting part of this article was that the author said that Park Geun-hye, the daughter of Park Chung-hee, should apologize to the victims' families in this case, as "Even under inheritance laws, you must accept the debts as well as the assets. If Park wants to be a true leader for South Korea, it would behoove her to pay off her father’s debts and begin anew with no weight on her shoulders."

If Park Geun-hye does run in the coming election, I wonder how much her father's legacy will help or hinder her election prospects. It's a double-edged legacy and it all boils down to the question of whether or not the Korean public will take the view that the sins of the fathers are passed down to the children.

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