원로 정치인 고건 전 총리, 한국의 사회적 변화 언급

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000174 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2020 
TAGS: PGOV ECON KPAO KS
SUBJECT: VETERAN POLITICIAN GOH KUN ON KOREAN SOCIAL 
CHALLENGES 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b), (d). 
 
¶1.  (C) SUMMARY: On February 1 the Ambassador hosted former 
Prime Minister Goh Kun for a lunch discussion that covered a 
range of issues, including his work on the Committee for 
Social Integration.  Goh, recently selected to chair the 
committee, has now worked for seven different presidents over 
the past 30 years.  This -- combined with Goh's experience 
serving in local, regional, and national offices -- has given 
him a unique perspective into Korea's economic and political 
development.  Goh discussed his goals for the committee, 
which he chaired for the first time on January 18, and his 
idea for reforestation projects in North Korea.  Goh was 
relaxed and talkative, and declared he "never" would run for 
a high office.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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Improving Social Integration 
---------------------------- 
 
¶2.  (C) President Lee Myung-bak launched a new advisory 
committee for social integration on December 23, 2009.  The 
committee consists of 16 government ministers and 32 civilian 
members, including former high-ranking officials from 
previous liberal governments.  Goh, who has served in the 
administrations of both conservative and liberal presidents, 
vowed to maintain the committee's political neutrality. 
During lunch, Goh told the Ambassador that a recent public 
survey indicated that eight out of 10 people thought Korea's 
social conflict was worse than it was 10 years ago.  Goh 
explained this sentiment by noting that social classes were 
formed during the process of industrialization, and Korea has 
not yet resolved how to handle the ensuing class conflict. 
Goh noted that the emphasis on class structure underpins the 
fundamental conflict between progressives and conservatives 
in Korea.  The former group emphasizes equality while the 
latter argues for individual excellence and advancement. 
 
¶3.  (C) Goh said he has outlined 10 core objectives for his 
committee, and one of these was building institutions to 
manage social conflict.  As proof of the need for more 
conflict resolution, he referred to the Yongsan incident and 
said institutional mechanisms could have prevented the 
tragedy.  (NOTE: In January 2009 police tried to remove 
protestors who were occupying a building scheduled to be 
demolished.  Five protestors and one police officer died in 
the ensuing confrontation.  END NOTE.)  Goh said that when he 
was Seoul mayor (1988-90 and 1998-2002), he met every 
Saturday with citizens to hear their concerns.  The issue of 
urban redevelopment was a growing issue in Seoul, and there 
was a potential for similar incidents if the government did 
not take action. 
 
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Reducing Regional Conflict 
-------------------------- 
 
¶4.  (C) Another of the goals Goh set for his committee was 
reducing regional conflict.  Goh noted that the huge influx 
of people to Seoul had diminished the traditional Youngnam 
(southeastern Korea) and Honam (southwestern Korea) conflict, 
especially among young people.  The problem was that regional 
politics still existed.  The parties had very strong support 
bases in the regions -- the Grand National Party in Youngnam 
and the Democratic Party in Honam -- and politicians tried to 
take advantage of historical animosity for their own 
political gain. 
 
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Reforesting North Korea 
----------------------- 
 
¶5.  (C) The Ambassador inquired about media reports that Goh 
had also advocated reforestation projects in North Korea. 
Goh noted that that was separate from the work of the 
committee and instead hearkened back to work he had done in 
1972 as part of the successful efforts to reforest South 
Korea.  Goh noted that South Korean companies like Posco were 
looking at reforestation projects in South America as part of 
cap-and-trade requirements.  He encouraged them to think 
about projects in North Korea instead.  Goh argued that 
reforestation projects could also be part of humanitarian 
aid.  It would be easier to verify that trees were delivered 
to the proper place.  It should be treated as a crop, Goh 
said.  That way, the wood could be harvested for fuel and 
workers who oversaw the maintenance of the trees could be 
paid like agricultural workers. 
 
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Bio Note 
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¶6.  (C) Goh was talkative and articulate.  He relied on the 
interpreter, but often seemed to understand most if not all 
of the English.  Goh was the youngest-ever governor (1975-79) 
of South Jeolla province and has also served as minister 
(Transportation 1980-81; Agriculture and Fisheries 1981-82; 
Home Affairs 1987); National Assembly member (1985-88); Seoul 
Mayor (1988-90 and 1998-2002); and as Prime Minister (1997-98 
and 2003-04).  His long and diverse government experience has 
prompted people to suggest him as a possible Democratic Party 
candidate for the 2012 elections.  When the Ambassador made a 
general inquiry about his political ambitions, Goh quickly 
replied "never." 
STEPHENS