Ruling Saenuri Party presidential candidate Park Geun-hye and main opposition Democratic United Party candidate Moon Jae-in must have made over a thousand policy pledges as they toured the nation on their campaign trails. But only around a dozen of them are likely to be realized during the five-year term of the next president, not because Park or Moon is incapable but because they will inevitably lack the money to implement them. A tight budget turns every president into a liar.
During the final presidential TV debate on Sunday night, Park pledged to raise an extra W27 trillion a year to improve living conditions for Koreans, while Moon promised W39 trillion (US$1=W1,073). But no matter how powerful a leader may be, it is virtually impossible to raise an additional W30-40 trillion a year. Before heading to the polling stations, voters must determine which candidate will be honest enough to explain these fiscal limitations to the public and focus resources on the most important pledges.
The leader of a nation must place top priority on energizing his people. Korea has been able to maximize its potential and pave new roads for its future despite lack of natural resources. But in today's world, the power of government is being replaced by people power, and increasing national clout does not necessarily translate into better, more fulfilling lives for the people.
Voters must head to the polls on Wednesday with a clear idea of which candidate they think is capable of energizing the people of Korea.
The barriers that have divided Koran society must be torn down. Park and Moon have fought each other during this presidential campaign by dividing the public. Unless this rift is mended after the election, social cohesion will not be achieved, and a divided public cannot take their country on a path toward progress. Voters must choose the candidate who can unite the people with tolerance and strong leadership.
A country's leader should not divide the country into allies and enemies and fall into favoritism in selecting new officials. The failures of previous presidents stemmed from mistakes made in selecting those who would work for them. Voters must decide which candidate is more likely to choose officials who will work for the good of the country rather than the president.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, people have been wondering when North Korea would walk down the path of reform. Both progressive and conservative South Korean governments have attempted to coax North Korea into opening up, and both have failed. And the ideological battle between the two sides over the North Korean issues has only fomented division here. Voters must decide who is capable of formulating North Korea policies that satisfy both sides and of carrying them out.
The presidential election is a milestone in determining the nation's fate. Voters should not take it lightly.