Thursday, February 5, 2015

Comparing Presidents Roh Moo-hyun & Lee Myeong-bak

From old times, politics has been one of the most popular topics to shoot the breeze with and the gossip of presidents is the most popular theme among the many political issues. Of course, it is still early to talk about the present president [Park Guen-hye] since it has been less than two years since her inauguration and three years still remain for her to be in office; therefore, this essay will discuss two of the former presidents and will be a discussion of contrasts.

The Republic of Korea has had 18 presidents so far, and it is interesting to look at the two most recent, the 16th and 17th presidents, who shared some of the same types of ups and downs during their tenures. The 16th president, Roh Moo-hyun, was president from 2003 to 2008, and the 17th president, Lee Myeong Park, began his duties in 2008 and finished them in 2013. President Roh was elected with 48.9% approval rate, and President Lee with 48.7%, nearly identical; however, their political stances were radically different. Roh was a progressive while Lee was a conservative, and it can well be said that their political stances played direct influences on their ruling of the nation. While Roh was a lawyer and a fighter for democracy, he blazoned for progressive action while in office. On the other hand, Lee's background was as CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Hyundai group and Incheon Steel, and citizens believed that his CEO experiences made him into a conservative man. President Roh's representative achievements were the increase of cultural infrastructures and the bringing of operational control back to Korea, which was considered a very progressive accomplishment. In addition, he also expanded the Korean stock market, Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), from 700 to 1800s lines. On the other hand, Lee's most remarkable achievement was the hosting of 20 summit-level conferences, but he also, as nation representative, hosted the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2008.

As presidents, they both did have some shadows cast on their presidencies. President Roh was about to be impeached by Parliament because of the Free Trade Agreement, and President Lee was heavily criticized regarding his impractical grand scale scheme to build a canal from Seoul to Pusan but which was scaled down to only beautifying the four great rivers in South Korea, a project labeled "the Four Rivers Project". The Four Rivers Project became hugely unpopular and resulted in many unplanned-for environmental side effects, but that said, he was not threatened with impeachment like Roh was.

Presidents are usually evaluated by decisions they make during their presidency and which reverberate afterwards. For former-President Roh, many people are still missing him and also mourn his tragic death. However, for former-President Lee, it is still controversial as to how "great" he was as a president as he relatively recently left the office and controversial statistical fabrication during his tenure is still popping up.

Thank you Lee Ki Tak for letting me share your interesting comparison paper. You demonstrate good research by providing many solid facts on the topic of politics, an area I am very weak in.

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