(im)peaches and koalas

(im)peaches and koalas

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I got my (im)peaches out in Yeouido

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Cho "Luke Skywalker" Kuk isn't alone in thinking three years is too long.

One of the first things the Minjoo Party did as soon as the new National Assembly opened was submitting a proposal for special investigation into the death of a marine, an investigation of which President Yoon is suspected of having swept under the rug.

Minjoo wants to keep Yoon in the corner while it paves the way for Lee's second bid to the Presidency. If it goes all too well, it may even take the "I" train.

A bunch of elected officials openly speaking of impeaching the head of state—just because they don't like him and don't want to wait for the remainder of a legally mandated term is, well, gross. Impeaching the President used to be something you could find on the fringe of South Korean politics along with the idea of a nuclear-armed South Korea, but not anymore—for both.

Impeachment, however, is also a constitutionally stipulated way to deal with official's wrongdoings. Would it work (again) this time?

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Considering the reports so far, it appears that President Yoon did talk the defense minister out of letting the investigation continue. (Why he did so is still a mystery to me.) It was, indeed, inappropriate.

But it falls short of what the courts see as the elements of abuse of authority. The Supreme Court has left little room of legal interpretation of what constitutes abuse of authority in the previous high-profile cases.

South Korea is a TSMC of impeaching the head of state: its state-of-the-art politics have impeached two Presidents—Roh Moo-hyun (dismissed) and Park Geun-hye (you know how it ended), and both the cases teach a lesson.

Politicians do have a memory. The problem is that their memory span is often shorter than necessary. You may be surprised to learn that, back then, the Minjoo lawmakers were reluctant until the very last minute to push the impeachment of Park Geun-hye forward.

Because they did have a memory of what happened after they impeached Roh. Minjoo and the Conservatives faced a crushing defeat in the general election, while Roh's splinter party (from Minjoo) won a majority in the parliament.

Was Roh popular at that time? His approval ratings were around 25% during the run-up to the impeachment. The Conservatives and Minjoo wouldn't dare to press ahead if the public support for Roh was firm.

One thing that the public abhors more than an unpopular leader is a prospect of chaos in the advent of leadership vacuum, they learned the hard way. (Also, former allies backstabbing a leader.)

Park's impeachment, however, revised the lesson a bit: a scandal outrageous enough could make it bearable for the public. Combined with another proposal calling for investigation of the First Lady, this is what Minjoo dreams of.

But are these outrageous enough? I don't think so—at least for now.

As I said earlier, politicians do have a memory. But again, their memory span seems to be limited to only the last of impeachment.

삼보일배하는 추미애의원
 출처 :추미애의원 홈페이지
Choo, in 2004, begging voters for forgiveness after Roh's impeachment

Choo Mi-ae, who is floating the idea of impeaching Yoon in public, led Minjoo into joining the impeachment of Roh two decades ago. Facing the backlash from the public with the election coming, Choo had to perform 'three steps one bow' in as a display of remorse.

Well, twenty years is too long, I can give her that.

Three years is too long for Lee, too.

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The salmons let down us all—now Lee has to fight yet another legal front, possibly the most pungent one.

Lee is basically using Trump's legal playbook: drag out as long as possible. But chances are that one of his legal fronts will collapse well before the next Presidential election comes.

One strike and he's out.

Lee must be nervous and his loyalist in Minjoo too. So they thought up something even Trump couldn't do: Minjoo's latest special investigation proposal—so there have been three so far—is about the prosecutors' (alleged) fabrication of the case.

Or salmons, again.

It doesn't require a Machiavelli to see this is going to reap the exact opposite of what it desires. There's little way that calling for appointing a special prosecutor to a case that has only gone through the first trial could be seen anything other than obstruction of justice.

Which will eventually put Lee further away from the Presidency. The more Lee and Minjoo cling on obstructing the legal proceedings, the more voters will be disgruntled at them.

Lee's grip on the party seems strong so far. The party has revised its party constitution to allow Lee to keep his leadership until the local 2026 election. It has also abolished a clause from the party constitution that allowed to suspend party officials from their duty if they were indicted on corruption charges.

However, as I pointed out before, his control over the party is not as strong as the recent stories would make you believe.

The latest case that proves my point is the defeat of Choo, who was widely seen as Lee's pick, in the race for the National Assembly speakership. (But I'm willing to admit that Choo's unattractiveness may played a role here. A true mystery for me is that how a politician with the stats of Choo managed to survive more than two decades.)

A rupture may arise in a least expected moment.

My proposal for Indo-Pacific Peace: bring koalas in Korea

China's recall of its pandas has been an issue in many countries, not least in Korea.

Fubao the panda's return in April was livestreamed by major networks in the country and a large crowd was at the scene watching the truck carrying the beloved panda in the rainy day.

Which reminded me of Kim Jong Il's funeral...

As a champion of the free world, it got me thinking: do we have something to counter the CCP animal influence campaign?

I think I have an answer: koalas.

In terms of cuteness, koalas surpass other animals just as the US does others in defense spendings. The lumpish bears with bruised eyes wouldn't stand a chance in the presence of the apex marsupials.

Yes, I'm a big fan of koalas, but hear me out. South Korea is the only country in East Asia without koalas. Taiwan has them. Japan has them. But not South Korea. I expected at least one zoo in this pretty developed economy has them, but there was none. I had to visit Japan to see one. (And will do it again by the end of this year.)

This is Kintoki I met in Tama zoo, Tokyo.

Seoul and Canberra need each other more than ever. South Korea's competitive industrial base could help Canberra building its naval capabilities—I doubt either the US or any of Canberra's security partners retains the capacities necessary to build them in time.

Seoul's search for a diplomatic breakthrough has been in major part trying to bring itself closer to Tokyo. Recent incidents have shown South Korean public's doubts about Tokyo remain strong, and Tokyo's reciprocation to Seoul's move hasn't been good enough to turn it around.

I would put koalas instead of wine

Maybe it's time to try some 'latticework'. Rather than pursuing to improve relations with Tokyo as the hub of the US Indo-Pacific playbook, strengthening the ROK-AUS bilateral relationship could work as it would garner much more support domestically.

Koalas will lead the way.

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Jamie Larson