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Professors flock around presidential election camps

Posted March. 16, 2017 07:15,   

Updated March. 16, 2017 07:24


In the fall of 2012, Ahn Cheol-soo, former head of the People's Party, was bringing a fresh wind to the political community in Korea. One day, a college professor in Seoul received a phone call during the lecture. The professor told students that the class was dismissed due to some unavoidable circumstances, and left the classroom. The phone call was made by Ahn’s presidential election camp, summoning the professor for some emergency situations. A college professor trying to apply its academic findings to the reality should not be someone to be blamed for. However, in reality, such professors tend to neglect the first and foremost duty to devote themselves to research and teaching.

“If you join a presidential election camp, you can hunt for a government position in the future or can be hired as an outside director. While so many professors are joining election camps, I was afraid of being viewed as left out or an useless intellectual in the school,” said one college professor, who has tried to join the presidential election camp of Moon Jae-in, former head of the opposition Minjoo Party, since 2016. As we near the presidential election, professors with similar thinking become busier and busier while trying to get connected to the political community, making the university town unsettled.

It has been reported that Moon Jae-in’s presidential election camp is crowded by professors flocking around the office. Moon’s policy think tank, launched with 500 participants in October last year, has invited about 1,000 professors and experts. As Moon is becoming an undoubted front-runner for the upcoming presidential election, professors working for other candidates’ election camps have denied their support for Moon’s rivals after the media publicly disclosed their names. It is such a bittersweet happening.

Surprisingly, Professor Kim Kwang-doo, president of the Institute of Future Studies and a former economic advisor for former President Park Geun-hye, joined Moon’s presidential election camp Wednesday. “I would be blamed and insulted, but working as a columnist without undertaking any active obligations makes me feel irresponsible and cowardly,” said Kim. During the 2007 primary of the then-ruling Hannara Party, Kim worked for Park and led the committee calling for tax cuts, deregulation and reestablishment of law and order. Unfortunately, he was not hired at the government after Park won the presidential election. The public is perplexed about Kim’s unexpected and sudden support for Moon because Kim has been the champion of the market economy and freedom, while Moon’s pledge includes creating 810,000 jobs with taxpayers' money. Though some college professors are eager to join presidential election camps, it seems quite nonsensical to see Kim working for Moon after all of his vows and remarks that he made four years ago.