“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” –John Maxwell
In May, South Korea elected a new president, Moon Jae In. It has been interesting to watch this election process unfold. For one thing, choosing from as many as 15 candidates in one single election seemed overwhelming to me. Unlike the US’s more strict two party system including primary elections, each party has a candidate and people can also run independently. Check out this banner showing the different candidates. For the candidates labeled with numbers one through five, the numbers represent the ranking their party holds in terms of numbers of seats the National Assembly after the previous election. The rest of the candidates were independents, and I’m not sure how their number was determined.
The process of President Moon’s election provides a refreshing reminder that even when there are political problems, democratic principles can still prevail. In South Korea, there was evidence that the former president’s behavior was inappropriate (corruption and sharing confidential information). So there was an investigation and then the president was impeached and removed from office. Then a new president was elected by the people. What a wonderful example of democracy!
Some might say it was terrible that the president had to be impeached; that it is an embarrassment. Many Koreans would agree. But at the same time, it should be celebrated that the prescribed laws of democracy were followed and well executed. Even in today’s world, many countries face difficulties removing problematic or corrupt leaders from office. Though it was not easy in this case either (the former president still denies wrongdoing), democracy prevailed. And I hope that President Moon Jae In will keep to those democratic principles.
The President’s election also contrasts with the recent global trend of electing more conservative leaders. For a Korean politician he is more liberal to moderate. A former human rights lawyer whose parents were North Korean refugees, he protested against the United States backed military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee in the 1980s. In terms of international policy, President Moon does want to maintain the relationship with the US, but also wants South Korea to not “rely” on that relationship, especially in terms of defense capabilities. On the issue of North Korea, instead of pursuing a hard-line mentality like his predecessors, President Moon is willing to go to North Korea and talk with leaders if it will help resolve tensions with the North over it’s nuclear program development and help bring peace to the Korean peninsula. Domestically, he is focused on ending corruption and creating more employment opportunities to help economic growth. His resume and platform indicate a strong commitment to the people. He has big challenge ahead of him and I hope he is up to the task!