Moon Jae-in and the Pol­i­tics of Re­form in South Korea

Global Asia - - CONTENTS - By Sang-young Rhyu

a wakeup call is needed af­ter an ero­sion of the pres­i­dent’s pop­u­lar man­date amid sput­ter­ing eco­nomic poli­cies.

The can­dle­light vig­ils in late 2016 protest­ing the deca­dence of former pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and call­ing for a re­newal of South Korea’s democ­racy marked a turn­ing point. With the elec­tion in May 2017 of Moon Jae-in as pres­i­dent, many felt a new era was at hand.

But Moon’s pop­u­lar man­date has rapidly eroded in the wake of eco­nomic poli­cies that ap­pear to have back­fired, in many in­stances leav­ing those he pledged to help worse off, and en­trenched in­ter­ests more pow­er­ful than ever. Sang-young Rhyu looks at those pol­icy mis­steps and sug­gests it’s time for an ur­gent wakeup call. One year and five months have passed since south Korean Pres­i­dent moon Jae-in took of­fice. Dur­ing this pe­riod, moon’s demo­cratic lead­er­ship style and spirit of ser­vice have lifted public morale and salved past wounds. In his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress, he voiced his de­sire to be­come a pres­i­dent who com­mu­ni­cates with the public in or­der to cre­ate a “na­tion wor­thy of be­ing called a na­tion.” His ef­forts to im­prove in­ter-korean relations and pro­mote peace on the Korean Penin­sula have also been en­thu­si­as­ti­cally wel­comed. In ad­di­tion, in­sti­tu­tional re­forms have been steadily pro­mul­gated to en­hance the trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity of large con­glom­er­ates. How­ever, it didn’t take long for the harsh re­al­i­ties of south Korean so­ci­ety to ma­te­ri­al­ize into prodi­gious chal­lenges to his lead­er­ship.

al­though there were ex­pec­ta­tions and hopes for a fresh start, struc­tural so­cioe­co­nomic con­straints have drawn more at­ten­tion than sym­bolic po­lit­i­cal vi­sions. the can­dle­light protests that paved the way for moon’s as­cent to the Blue House have now turned into a debt he must quickly re­pay, as his ap­proval rat­ings have dropped from 84 per­cent to 49 per­cent. south Korean so­ci­ety and the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion have en­tered on a dif­fi­cult odyssey to find the lat­ter of Janus’ two faces, one of which looks to the past, the other to the fu­ture.

al­though moon’s govern­ment owes its ex­is­tence to the can­dle­light vig­ils that brought down the govern­ment of former Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye, nei­ther moon nor any po­lit­i­cal party led the protests. In­stead, the demo­crat­i­cally in­spired and awak­ened cit­i­zens of south Korea en­gen­dered

them. In­censed by Park’s cor­rup­tion, spurred on by an émi­nence grise who ex­erted un­to­ward in­flu­ence over her and govern­ment af­fairs, and deeply dis­ap­pointed with the in­com­pe­tence of south Korean politi­cians, cit­i­zens raised can­dles in protest to re­store the coun­try’s democ­racy. It is this cry of the na­tion that the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken up with the hope of re­al­iz­ing those am­bi­tions through new poli­cies and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms. there­fore, moon’s govern­ment has a bur­den of great his­tor­i­cal and so­cial sig­nif­i­cance. the de­mands of the can­dle­light vig­ils can be nar­rowed down to the restora­tion of democ­racy, sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth and the build­ing of a just and fair so­ci­ety. the “new start” claimed by moon was noth­ing more than fan­fare aimed at meet­ing those de­mands.

For south Korean lead­ers, how­ever, Korean so­ci­ety is like a rough sea or a rugged moun­tain range: it is hard to know when the weather will sud­denly change or a ty­phoon will strike. al­though the pres­i­dent may at times seem om­nipo­tent, in cer­tain cases he or she is pow­er­less to do any­thing at all. as a re­sult, en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers can quickly turn into wild crit­ics. Col­lec­tive in­ter­net at­tacks on in­di­vid­u­als with dif­fer­ent views are shame­ful ex­am­ples of the im­ma­tu­rity and low qual­ity of democ­racy in south Korea. It is not easy even for skilled lead­ers to nav­i­gate the treach­er­ous reefs of Korean so­ci­ety. the dy­namic his­tory and con­tentious na­ture of the coun­try’s pol­i­tics tes­tify to this, and moon’s ten­ure as pres­i­dent will be no ex­cep­tion.

How well will moon steer through these rough wa­ters? to an­swer this ques­tion, a crit­i­cal anal­y­sis of some of the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic phe­nom­ena since his in­au­gu­ra­tion is needed. De­spite the progress of sys­temic re­forms aimed at restor­ing democ­racy, it has not been easy to re­move deeply rooted evils. eco­nom­i­cally, the gap be­tween the rich and poor has been worsen- ing, de­spite ef­forts to build an in­clu­sive wel­fare state and to cre­ate jobs with var­i­ous poli­cies to achieve sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth. What lies be­hind these phe­nom­ena?

Nav­i­gat­ing the ECO­NOMIC reefs

al­though democ­racy does not live by bread alone, democ­racy with­out it is eas­ily chal­lenged. the peo­ple look be­yond the form of po­lit­i­cal democ­racy and de­mand the ma­te­rial sub­stance of eco­nomic and so­cial democ­racy. the peo­ple’s eval­u­a­tion of lead­er­ship is de­ter­mined pri­mar­ily by eco­nomic and so­cial per­for­mance rather than po­lit­i­cal prom­ises. al­though the po­lit­i­cal dis­sat­is­fac­tion of the peo­ple can be partly as­suaged with per­sua­sive words, eco­nomic dis­sat­is­fac­tion can­not be ad­dressed with­out fill­ing their wal­lets. In many coun­tries, eco­nomic per­for­mance usu­ally de­ter­mines or at least greatly in­flu­ences elec­tion re­sults. James Carville, former Us Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s 1992 cam­paign man­ager, summed it up with these words: “It’s the econ­omy, stupid.”

In this re­gard, moon’s govern­ment is fac­ing its first ma­jor cri­sis since com­ing to power. neg­a­tive eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors are jeop­ar­diz­ing the pres­i­dent’s lead­er­ship. the num­ber of newly hired work­ers in July 2018 was only 5,000, flat from the num­ber a year ago and the low­est on record for the last eight years and six months. For the sev­enth con­sec­u­tive month, the num­ber of un­em­ployed in­di­vid­u­als has ex­ceeded 1 mil­lion. such in­di­ca­tors are all the more shock­ing con­sid­er­ing that the govern­ment has in­vested about 51 tril­lion won since moon’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, when he pre­sented his job cre­ation pro­pos­als as “his first or­der of busi­ness.” the shock of un­em­ploy­ment is con­nected to wors­en­ing trends in in­come dis­tri­bu­tion. as of the sec­ond quar­ter of 2018, in­come for the top 20 per­cent of house­holds in­creased by 10.3 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous quar­ter, while in­come for the bot­tom 20 per­cent

de­creased by 7.6 per­cent. like­wise, the num­ber of jobs in­creased for the up­per in­come bracket, but de­creased sharply for the lower in­come bracket. Both the Gini co­ef­fi­cient (a widely used mea­sure of in­come dis­tri­bu­tion) and the rel­a­tive poverty rate rose, as did the un­em­ploy­ment rate for young adults aged 25-34, which hit 6.4 per­cent, the high­est since 1999. the de­cline in avail­able jobs is linked to the ex­ac­er­ba­tion of in­come in­equal­i­ties. moon called the lat­est eco­nomic data “a heart-wrench­ing re­sult.”

What could have caused this dire sit­u­a­tion? It is true that the south Korean econ­omy has suf­fered from mul­ti­ple fac­tors, in­clud­ing China’s long-term re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures trig­gered by Bei­jing’s im­ma­ture re­sponse to the hasty de­ploy­ment by seoul of the Us thaad mis­sile de­fense sys­tem, the rise of pro­tec­tion­ism and trade wars, and the weak­en­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness of south Korea’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor in the era of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and other high tech de­vel­op­ments. But the fail­ure of eco­nomic poli­cies can­not be at­trib­uted to these cir­cum­stances alone, for every econ­omy has had to face dif­fi­cult chal­lenges. lead­er­ship can only be re­spected and sup­ported when it over­comes such dif­fi­cult times.

moon’s first sched­uled visit af­ter be­ing sworn in was to In­cheon In­ter­na­tional air­port — a state-owned cor­po­ra­tion — on may 12, 2017, where he promised to reg­u­lar­ize 10,000 tem­po­rary em­ploy­ees and de­clared the end of ir­reg­u­lar em­ploy­ment in the public sec­tor. the pres­i­dent,

who re­sponded to the griev­ous sit­u­a­tion faced by ir­reg­u­lar work­ers by cham­pi­oning the phi­los­o­phy of the “peo­ple first,” was warmly re­ceived by many cit­i­zens and work­ers alike. at the time, how­ever, voices of con­cern were also heard over the un­re­al­is­tic na­ture of these poli­cies. those who spoke out wor­ried that such high ex­pec­ta­tions would turn into deeper dis­ap­point­ments. they aired the con­cerns not sim­ply be­cause of po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences, but be­cause they be­lieved that many un­ex­pected eco­nomic con­straints and in­sti­tu­tional com­plex­i­ties would in­evitably emerge like reefs in a seem­ingly calm sea. the poli­cies should have been premised on a care­ful roadmap and a de­tailed ac­tion plan to over­come these un­in­tended con­se­quences.

the per­ils of rookie rigid­ity

this style of in­ex­pe­ri­enced and rigid pol­icy im­ple­men­ta­tion has also been re­flected in the min­i­mum wage in­crease and the short­en­ing of work­ing hours. In 2018, the hourly min­i­mum wage was raised by 16.4 per­cent to 7,530 won and is ex­pected to in­crease by 10.9 per­cent to 8,350 won by 2019. ef­fec­tive from July 2018, max­i­mum work­ing hours were re­duced from 68 hours to 52 hours per week. these poli­cies were moon’s sig­na­ture cam­paign pledges. How­ever, they have also pro­duced un­ex­pected re­sults. the wage in­crease was off­set by in­fla­tion, and em­ploy­ers pre-emp­tively re­duced em­ploy­ment out of fear over the sched­uled in­creases in la­bor costs. small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises (smes) with weaker bal­ance sheets were hit hard, as were the self-em­ployed, whose rate of clo­sures rose to 88 per­cent. the re­duc­tion in work­ing hours also made man­age­ment of smes more dif­fi­cult and caused a para­dox­i­cal phe­nom­e­non in which the in­comes of many sme work­ers ac­tu­ally de­clined. In the end, both poli­cies, re­gard­less of their good in­tent, cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion where ev­ery­body lost and the poor and so­cially un­der­priv­i­leged had to fight over de­pleted re­sources.

the fail­ure of the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion’s eco­nomic poli­cies has cre­ated an even greater para­dox in its pol­icy to­ward real es­tate. this was orig­i­nally aimed at strength­en­ing reg­u­la­tions, such as im­pos­ing higher taxes to sup­press the in­crease in real es­tate prices in ar­eas of seoul, in­clud­ing the Gang­nam area, so as to elim­i­nate eco­nomic po­lar­iza­tion and so­cial un­rest and to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for young peo­ple to pur­chase their own homes at af­ford­able prices. How­ever, the pol­icy, which stim­u­lated the psy­chol­ogy of real es­tate con­sumers who were sen­si­tive to school districts and who con­fused it with the ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy, over­lapped with the com­mit­ment to prop­erty de­vel­op­ment of seoul mayor

For South Korean lead­ers, Korean so­ci­ety is like a rough sea or a rugged moun­tain range: it is hard to know when the weather will sud­denly change or a ty­phoon will strike. Al­though the pres­i­dent may at times seem om­nipo­tent, in cer­tain cases he or she is pow­er­less to do any­thing at all. As a re­sult, en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers can quickly turn into wild crit­ics.

Park Won-soon, who hopes to run in the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and the real es­tate pol­icy of the min­istry of land.

as a re­sult, the pol­icy caused real es­tate prices to sky­rocket through­out seoul. now, the dream of find­ing a way for young peo­ple and non-home­own­ers to fi­nally pur­chase their own homes has been shat­tered. this rigid and piece­meal eco­nomic pol­icy, which failed to read the flow of the mar­ket and which was pre­oc­cu­pied with equal­ity and jus­tice, has fur­ther un­der­mined so­cial jus­tice. In ad­di­tion, el­e­vated hous­ing costs have de­pleted the ex­tra cap­i­tal of house­holds, cre­at­ing a vi­cious cy­cle of shrink­ing con­sump­tion across the econ­omy. How­ever, the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to blame what it de­scribes as the im­moral avarice of spec­u­la­tors for these re­sults. the drop in the ap­proval rat­ings of the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion is, there­fore, re­lated to the fail­ure of its eco­nomic poli­cies.

In the sum­mer of 2018, when tem­per­a­tures soared to record highs, air con­di­tion­ing was an im­por­tant so­cial is­sue. On aug. 7, moon stressed that pro­tect­ing the peo­ple from the heat was a form of “wel­fare that is di­rectly con­nected to life” and man­dated that the pro­gres­sive elec­tric­ity tax be tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended for res­i­den­tial homes. the sup­pres­sion of the elec­tric­ity tax is a reg­u­lar menu item that all ad­min­is­tra­tions use and that the public is sen­si­tive to and yearns for. How­ever, the fare sys­tem that gives pref­er­en­tial treat­ment to the in­dus­trial sec­tor and bur­dens or­di­nary house­holds with higher elec­tric­ity rates was de­signed in the era of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the 1960s, but has been main­tained up to now. In fact, low elec­tric­ity rates have been cited as one of the crit­i­cal in­cen­tives for for­eign com­pa­nies to en­ter south Korea. nev­er­the­less, the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion, un­able to over­come the re­sis­tance of large cor­po­ra­tions, does not ex­hibit much will­ing­ness to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion. mean­while, cuts in elec­tric­ity rates due to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure have re­sulted in fi­nan­cial losses at Korea elec­tric Power Cor­po­ra­tion (KEPCO), re­sult­ing in

It is cer­tainly too early to eval­u­ate the poli­cies or lead­er­ship of the Moon ad­min­is­tra­tion, and 49 per­cent public sup­port can never be judged as per­ilously low. There­fore, the cur­rent cri­sis could be a good wakeup call for the Moon ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­spite its de­lay in tak­ing cor­rec­tive ac­tions and the heavy costs that have al­ready been in­curred.

the govern­ment qui­etly pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to the com­pany to the tune of over 2 tril­lion won each year. this pol­icy is an ex­am­ple of the govern­ment’s short-term po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions and the kind of ig­no­rance of con­sumers that leads to pop­ulism. re­peat­edly fol­low­ing such poli­cies will re­sult in poor over­sight of public en­ter­prises and a chronic bur­den on state fi­nances. shouldn’t changes in poli­cies such as these be the sub­ject of eco­nomic re­form?

Moon’s des­tiny: Cop­ing with Vested in­ter­ests

the goals and di­rec­tion of the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion’s eco­nomic poli­cies might be con­tro­ver­sial, but they were among the po­lit­i­cally via-

ble op­tions avail­able when it came into of­fice. Un­der a demo­cratic regime, the pres­i­dent and rul­ing party can set new po­lit­i­cal strate­gies and the di­rec­tion of re­forms. How­ever, poor per­for­mance re­sult­ing from failed eco­nomic poli­cies that cause higher so­cial costs and pro­duce lower ben­e­fits can abruptly dis­ap­point capri­cious sup­port­ers as well as formerly neu­tral cit­i­zens.

It is cer­tainly too early to eval­u­ate the poli­cies or lead­er­ship of the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion, and 49 per­cent public sup­port can never be judged as per­ilously low. there­fore, the cur­rent cri­sis could be a good wakeup call for the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­spite its de­lay in tak­ing cor­rec­tive ac­tions and the heavy costs that have al­ready been in­curred. the mod­er­ate de­cline in public sup­port for the ad­min­is­tra­tion could even be re­as­sur­ing for the pres­i­dent, pol­icy-makers and sup­port­ers. Pre­vi­ously, the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion’s high ap­proval rat­ing was its best weapon sup­port­ing its poli­cies. Be­cause the rul­ing party didn’t con­trol the na­tional assem­bly be­fore the June elec­tion, it had to cite its high pop­u­lar sup­port when it sought to press the op­po­si­tion. How­ever, af­ter win­ning the ma­jor­ity in the June elec­tion, the rul­ing party was able to ex­e­cute mid- to longterm poli­cies with­out be­ing tied to ap­proval rat­ings. But shouldn’t the govern­ment pay at­ten­tion to short-term changes in pop­u­lar ap­proval? In this re­spect, the re­cent drop in ap­proval rat­ings could, in fact, be a para­dox­i­cal gift. If the mean­ing of this gift is put to good use, moon’s lead­er­ship could be re­stored.

are the re­forms un­der the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion go­ing well? so far, the work of clean­ing up the past has been ex­e­cuted briskly; how­ever, the count­less il­le­gal and cor­rupt ac­tions of the lee myung-bak and Park ad­min­is­tra­tions, as well as the dam­age they in­flicted on democ­racy, were deep and ex­ten­sive. sus­pi­cions even ma­te­ri­al­ized that the Park ad­min­is­tra­tion sim­u­lated a military coup dur­ing the im­peach­ment process; and the supreme Court ex­pressed par­tic­u­lar shock at ev­i­dence of pres­i­den­tial con­trol over the court sys­tem. In such cir­cum­stances, how­ever, the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­forms have gen­er­ally been eval­u­ated pos­i­tively. nev­er­the­less, in terms of pri­or­i­ties, the peo­ple want con­crete eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits more than they want the re­moval of deep-rooted evils. there­fore, eco­nomic and so­cial re­forms are more ur­gently needed.

Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, moon and his govern­ment are caught in a dilemma, stuck be­tween the re­sis­tance of or­ga­nized vested in­ter­ests and the ex­plo­sive de­mands of their un­struc­tured sup­port­ers, leav­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion vir­tu­ally breath­less. De­spite the can­dle­light protests, the forces of vested in­ter­ests, which are deeply rooted in south Korean so­ci­ety, re­main in­tact within con­glom­er­ates, the bu­reau­cracy, unions, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and even civil so­ci­ety. these vested in­ter­ests are re­flected in the ex­ist­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sys­tems and linger in the cul­ture and con­scious­ness of many peo­ple. among those vested in­ter­ests, no distinc­tions ex­ist be­tween the rul­ing party and the op­po­si­tion party, or be­tween con­ser­vatism and pro­gres­sivism. these age-old vested in­ter­ests are not ob­jects to be re­placed, but ob­jects to be cre­atively de­stroyed.

the na­tional Pen­sion sys­tem is one rep­re­sen­ta­tive case in which pre­scrip­tions for re­form re­peat­edly meet re­sis­tance from vested in­ter­ests. as of 2016, pen­sions for govern­ment of­fi­cials and the military, which on av­er­age are six times the na­tional pen­sion per capita, are sub­si­dized by the govern­ment to the tune of 3.6 tril­lion won. the re­cur­ring is­sue of eq­uity is not im­proved by the re­sis­tance of such vested in­ter­est groups. On the other hand, the per­cent­age of those who pay na­tional pen­sion pre­mi­ums is very low at 58.8 per­cent of the eco­nom­i­cally ac­tive pop­u­la­tion, but the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion,

afraid of a back­lash among its sup­port base, is also averse to in­creas­ing the ra­tio of pre­mium pay­ers and to re­duc­ing the num­ber of those who have un­til now avoided pay­ments. re­form of gover­nance struc­tures that would im­prove the per­for­mance and en­hance the trans­parency of the na­tional Pen­sion sys­tem is cur­rently stalled. such re­forms, how­ever, are an ur­gent task for south Korea, which is al­ready fac­ing a pop­u­la­tion cri­sis and the bur­dens of an ag­ing so­ci­ety, but there is no lead­er­ship to over­come vested in­ter­ests and to reach an un­der­stand­ing from the govern­ment’s sup­port­ers for needed re­forms.

It would ap­pear, rather, that the moon ad­min­is­tra­tion has been col­lud­ing with vested in­ter­est groups in the area of la­bor re­form. the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pur­suit of a “so­ci­ety that re­spects la­bor” is pie in the sky for ir­reg­u­lar work­ers and work­ers at smes. ac­cord­ing to the World eco­nomic Fo­rum’s 2017-2018 Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness re­port, south Korea’s la­bor mar­ket flex­i­bil­ity ranks 106th out of 137 coun­tries. this low com­pet­i­tive­ness is at­trib­ut­able to the low pro­duc­tiv­ity and rigid­ity of reg­u­lar full-time work­ers’ unions at large cor­po­ra­tions. these so-called aris­to­cratic la­bor unions are, in fact, en­joy­ing the fruits of the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­forms, while the rest of work­ers con­tinue to be sub­jected to greater rel­a­tive depri­va­tion. Only when con­crete mea­sures are taken to dis­man­tle the struc­ture of vested in­ter­ests and re­solve the di­vide within the la­bor mar­ket will the lead­er­ship of moon be able to truly shine.

fresh start or Not?

Will moon’s lead­er­ship be re­mem­bered as a “new start?” Or will it be buried in the rough waves of Korean so­ci­ety, with­out over­com­ing the struc­tures and prac­tices of the past? the an­swer de­pends on whether moon suc­ceeds in dis­man­tling the un­fair and ex­clu­sive struc­ture of vested in­ter­ests and cre­at­ing a fair and har­mo­nious so­ci­ety. Com­mu­ni­tar­ian lead­er­ship, through the cul­ti­va­tion of virtues, is needed for in­sti­tu­tional re­forms to suc­ceed and to cast a new vi­sion of the fu­ture that in­volves no­blesse oblige from the wealthy and im­proves the sense of own­er­ship and ac­count­abil­ity for the poor. the new lead­er­ship needs hon­esty and courage to per­suade sup­port­ers to ac­cept lower in­come tax ex­emp­tions and to pay more in taxes. It will also have to be rig­or­ous enough to iso­late it­self from the old prac­tices and past cul­ture of po­lit­i­cal and so­cial forces that have re­lied on elec­tion en­gi­neer­ing tac­tics to pur­sue new vested in­ter­ests. In or­der to achieve this, moon must at times be the ter­ri­fy­ing lion that di­rectly con­fronts vested in­ter­ests and at other times the clever fox that draws tears from his sup­port­ers. the lead­er­ship of Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Ger­hard schröder dur­ing the pe­riod of la­bor and wel­fare re­forms in Ger­many holds great im­pli­ca­tions for south Korea. In­stead of di­rectly reg­u­lat­ing the mar­ket, we need wis­dom and strat­egy to uti­lize pro­duc­tiv­ity and cre­ativ­ity. Was it not Karl marx who said that it was not the wicked­ness of the cap­i­tal­ist, but his cre­ativ­ity that is to be most feared?

Pres­i­dent moon’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is en­ti­tled Moon Jae-in’s Des­tiny. But I ex­pect that it will be a des­tiny that is not given, but a des­tiny in which a new era is cre­ated that does not end with moon alone but can be con­nected to the greater des­tiny of Korea. sang-young rhyu is pro­fes­sor at the grad­u­ate school of in­ter­na­tional stud­ies, yon­sei uni­ver­sity, seoul, south korea.

Photo: Ahn Young-joon/ap

Fac­ing chal­lenges: Moon Jae-in speaks to the press at the Blue House, his of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Seoul, in May.

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