Monday, May 31, 2004
What with the plannied removal of some 3,000 odd troops out of Korea to Iraq, and recent revelations of a further massive exodus of troops the debate over the future/current state of the US-Korea alliance is hotting up. The witheld notification of the troop removal is also an issue of interesting discussion but since 12 months ago there were massive protests going on I suspect it was deemed an inapproriate time to bring the issue up for objective and rationale debate. Perhaps more information on why it was witheld will be forthcoming. Representative Park Jin has just returned from US lamenting perceptions held in Washington of Korea's disdain for the alliance, especially the findings that Koreans see China as a more important ally than US. This view was augmented as China surpassed US as Korea's A1 trading partner.
The 17th National Assembly
There may be some high expectations for the new four year Assembly but already the usual bickering is already underway. Part of the problem, as I humbly see it, is that parites are used as simply tools for the elected officials. This is in contrast to a party that is elected by interests or classes within civil society whose aims and interets it then strives to represent. If then, the party's goal is to distinguish itself and uphold itself as the opposition and has no expressed interests to represent (apart from perhaps region), there is no reason to expect bi-partisanship on any level greater than what we have seen in the past, i.e, very little.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare has announced that it likes to gamble and will be investing some of the pension money into stocks and bonds. For Korean readers, the MoHW has more information. I know this was an interesting debate in the Ministry of Planning and Budget when I was there over the matter of whether it was a good idea or not to risk pensions on unpredictable stock markets. Of course, on the economic side, throwing a large amount of cash into the bond and stock markets is a good idea to boost confidence but that doesn't make it a good idea for actual pension fund if the stock market continues to fall and they end up losing money.