[Editorial] Rep. Hong Joon-pyo’s reckless far-right populism must not be abided

Posted on : 2021-10-29 17:32 KST Modified on : 2021-10-29 17:32 KST
Among his policy proposals are revoking Korea’s “three noes” on THAAD, repealing Korea’s corporate manslaughter act, and lowering or altogether abolishing multiple forms of taxation
Candidate in the People Power Party presidential primary Hong Joon-pyo announces one of his campaign platforms at his campaign office in Yeouido, Seoul, on Thursday morning. (pool photo)
Candidate in the People Power Party presidential primary Hong Joon-pyo announces one of his campaign platforms at his campaign office in Yeouido, Seoul, on Thursday morning. (pool photo)

Hong Joon-pyo, one of the candidates in the People Power Party’s (PPP) presidential primary, has made a string of outrageous promises. After swearing to revoke the Serious Accident Punishment Act, which was passed with bipartisan support to prevent fatalities at workplaces, Hong has now unveiled a foreign policy and national security platform that caters to the whims of voters on the far right, promising to void the “three noes” on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.

While Hong is no doubt angling to clinch every last vote from hardcore conservative voters as the PPP gears up to announce its nominee on Nov. 5, his radical moves over the last few days have crossed the line for sensible citizens. For example, there are the remarks he made during the press conference on Wednesday in which he presented his foreign policy and national security platform: “I will set up an ‘Asian nuclear planning group’ on a bilateral level with the US or through a multilateral framework and use that to secure a promise to build a NATO-like nuclear-sharing system that would include the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons.”

Hong’s promises are not only unrealistic and unlikely to be accepted by the international community but furthermore clash with the US government’s position, which is grounded on the principle of nuclear nonproliferation.

“I will rectify our distorted and unnatural relationship with China,” Hong said, promising to scrap what is known as the “three noes” on THAAD — the understanding that South Korea won’t join a missile defense system with the US, allow the deployment of additional THAAD batteries on South Korean soil, or set up a trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan.

This seems less like something that he arrived at after close consideration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in its surrounding region, and more like an attempt to exploit anti-China sentiment for votes. The same goes for his declaration that he plans to scrap the inter-Korean military agreement signed on Sept. 19, 2018, to prevent unintended military clashes.

In his earlier economic pledges announced Monday, Hong said he planned to abolish the comprehensive real estate tax, reduce the real estate holding tax, increase the redevelopment floor area ratio for central Seoul to 1,500%, and lower the maximum corporate tax. His policies speak entirely for the interests of business and wealthy homeowners. His plan to reduce the maximum corporate tax rate also goes against global movements.

This latest occasion saw him declaring his plans to abolish the Serious Accident Punishment Act, which was enacted last January on a bipartisan basis. At the same time, he also said it was “populism” to “excessively regulate [business] through legislation alone.”

It’s not difficult to understand what Hong intends with this sort of extreme behavior over the past few days. He may have seen no other option if he wants to shore up support among party members, where he is currently trailing former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl in the race for the PPP nomination.

But it’s an especially dangerous form of populism to repudiate the values of coexistence and unity that South Korea managed to agree upon after a difficult debate and to make so many unrealistic promises that will only breed conflict with our neighbors — simply for the sake of his own narrow political interests.

Here’s hoping Hong puts a stop to this kind of reckless talk going forward.

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories