Roh Regretted 'Big Mistake' of His Presidency

      September 22, 2009 11:42

      Former President Roh Moo-hyun shortly before his death reflected that his bid for the presidency was a "big mistake." "It was a big mistake to aspire for the presidency. It was probably irrational for a person who was unprepared and without an organized power base to lead the government and seek to undertake changes that our society was unprepared to accept," Roh Moo-hyun wrote on May 20, 2009 in memoirs published Monday containing unfinished manuscripts and unpublished interviews.

      The most recent entries were written on May 20, three days before Roh committed suicide. "The goals I tried to achieve as a politician clearly faced setbacks," he wrote. Roh added lists his mistakes as separating politics and government, self-righteousness and stubbornness, unrealistic policies, his use of language in public, his clash with the media, and tiring the public by fostering a hostile political culture. Yet he also expressed hope that his failures could lay the groundwork for progress.

      Referring to a corruption scandal involving his wealthy supporter Park Yeon-cha, Roh wrote, "Success or failure in politics does not depend solely on ethics."

      Roh also set down childhood memories of the military coup on May 16, 1961. "Before any value judgments, I harbor a sort of hostility toward former President Park Chung-hee and no matter how hard I try, I cannot evaluate him in a positive light." Following his 2007 summit in Pyongyang, Roh wrote, "North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is someone who is open to communication. Kim is the person I felt was the most flexible in North Korea, while the other officials seemed very rigid."

      Referring to his uneasy relationship with the media, Roh wrote, "Perhaps I could have approached the issue with more caution, flexibility and tact." He described the media as a "weapon" when referring to an incident where he was caught on camera in his garden while he was under investigation for corruption.

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