South Koreans choose their new president and Moon Jae-in claims victory. The last president (conservative) was kicked out of office, due to a massive corruption scandal. This is not uncommon as many politicians in South Korea are corrupt and serve the capitalist class. Capitalist newspapers give only attention to the candidates of the bourgeoisie. Millionaires and high ranking politicians are given preferential treatment. The South Korean election system works very much like the American one. Big money is deeply involved in politics, in the Republic of Korea!
Politics and alliances change very rapidly in South Korea. The liberals and conservatives change their names so often it is hard for an outsider to keep up. Conservatives are in 2017 united in the Liberty Korean Party previously known as the New Frontier Party and Grand National Party. The liberals belong to the Democratic Party today. In the past their names were Together Democratic Party and New Politics Alliance for Democracy. This change in names is happening very fast. Until the impeachment and arrest of president Park Geun-hye, the conservatives dominated South Korean politics. Now the parliament is divided between conservative loyalists who still support the former president, the main conservative party, the liberal party and a liberal split party called the People’s Party!
The progressive candidate for the office of president was Sim Sang-jung of the Justice Party. This small progressive party is the only leftist voice in a right-wing dominated parliament. Because the liberals in South Korea are as pro-capitalist as the conservatives. The Justice Party is not a socialist party, but a social democratic one. It does not argue for socialism, nor does it wish to abolish the corrupt capitalist system. In 1985, Sim Sang-jung was a fugitive and on the most wanted list. As a labour activist and fighter against the anticommunist military junta, she was wanted for instigating strikes. After democracy was established in the 1990’s (not thanks to the USA) she worked in many leftist parties. Eventually Sim became a member of the New Progressive Party which fused into the Justice Party!
Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party is said to becomes the new president. The liberals are seen as anti-corrupt, which is laughable. Only because they reject the hard-line conservatives does not make them less capitalistic or less corrupt. In fact the liberal party has its own history of political corruption. This is because all major politicians in the south have their rich donors. These rich Koreans are often needed to give politicians support in the media. A candidate like Sim Sang-jung is not supported by the ruling class, because she is critical of big money in politics. Also we must not forget that conservatives and liberals are serving the same class. Workers who vote on either of them can not expect politics that favor the working class!
Many promises are made. Moon said he would fight against the power of the wealthy Korean families who own most enterprises in the south. These are populist words because no South Korean president has ever dared to challenge the greedy capitalist families. Moon Jae-in own Democratic Party is living off donations from wealthy liberals just as the Democrats in the USA do. Revolutionary socialists don’t expect a course change. But maybe the new liberal president will be less confrontational and less of a hardliner towards North Korea. Park Geun-hye was very much against Kim Jong Un and choose harsh language over diplomacy. She turned out to be a corrupt bitch, we were not surprised. Geun-hye is the daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea from 1963 until his murder in 1979. As a young woman, Geun-hye was the first lady of the anticommunist republic, because he mother was already death. South Korea under her father was a totalitarian anticommunist republic. A republic that played on anticommunism to arrest and silence leftists and trade unionists. These critics of the Park regime were spied on by the criminal Korean Central Intelligence Agency, a direct clone of the CIA!
Like in the USA, elections in South Korea are too plutocratic. If all candidates would be given the same amount of media attention, then true leftists could make a point. But in capitalist Korea, the money goes to those who are loyal to the establishment. Like in America were the Democratic Party (neoliberals) and Republican Party (far-right conservatives) hold all political power. They control the elections, the polls and are the parties of Wall Street, the capitalist center of the world. South Korea does have one true socialist party. A small anti-capitalist force known as the Labor Party. Founded in July 2013, this party aims to replace the plutocratic establishment with a socialist democracy. At the moment however the Labor Party is not yet a force for working class people. This is because the Justice Party is portrayed by the media as the most leftist of all Korean political parties. The party of Sim Sang-jung is indeed progressive, but they are not anti-capitalist. Their aim is to reform capitalism, which revolutionary socialists believe cannot be done!
The new South Korean president is facing a growing crisis. Two narcissistic leaders face each other and between them lies South Korea. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un use war rhetoric and play a dangerous game. Trump’s armada is closing in on paranoid North Korea and Kim Jong Un claims he is ready to attack the ”puppet” state of America (South Korea). At home the power of the ruling class remains absolute. The sinking of the MS Sewol in April 2014 proofed again how weak government regulations are enforced, to protect people against the greed of capitalist enterprises. South Korea has safety laws and regulations, but they are often ignored as government bureaucrats are too close to the big business families. Economic corruption is a problem and South Korean ranks 53 on the Corruption Perceptions Index. Will Moon Jae-in be able to change the south? He claims so, but we heard this ”CHANGE” talk before in 2008. The guy who claimed he would bring change stayed in power for 8 years and turned out to be a Uncle Tom for capitalism!
One thing the new liberal president could do is to end internet censorship. South Korea is censoring websites that are deemed ”pro-North Korean”. Conservative newspapers and groups have successfully lobbied to censor blogs and websites that talk about North Korea. Their intolerance is legendary as seen in the past, when the Republic of Korea (under control of dictatorial conservatives) was a totalitarian right-wing dictatorship. In the western world, South Korea is seen as a bastion of democracy against ”totalitarian communism”, which is false since the DPRK dropped communism officially in 2009. But the reality is that political free speech is still limited. You are not allowed to reject the Republic of Korea and its institutions. You are not allowed to call yourself a communist in the open.
A leftist nationalist party was banned not so long ago, because it exposed Park Chung-hee as a Japanese soldier (collaborator). This brought great shame to the presidency of his daughter. Under her administration the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) was banned, because the government said the leftist nationalists were ”pro-North Korean”. This is how the conservatives were able to ban leftists from the political playground before the 1990’s. They simply said that any critic was pro-North Korean, this resulted in arrest and torture of those called ”enemies of democracy”. The Unified Progressive Party was not pro-North Korea, however it was deeply anti-USA and rejected American troops on Korean soil. It was a party of activists who were anti-imperialist. Leftist nationalists in the past have been pro-DPRK, but the UPP was never a party that hailed the Juche system of North Korea. Still the presidency of Park Geun-hye used the old pro-North Korean trick and banned the UPP. President Moon Jae-in would do good by rehabilitate the members of this leftist nationalist party. Despite their Korean nationalism, the UPP has the right to exist in a liberal democracy!