20 December 2007

South Korea

I wrote about politics in South Korea in August, when I focused on the presidential campaign of Lee Myung-bak, why some people were calling him a "pragmatist," and what that term meant in such a context.

So now, I'm hapy to report, the pragmatist has prevailed.

Mr. Lee won the election this week with a strong plurality. He received 48.7% of the vote in a multiple-candidate field. The runner up, Chung Dong-young, received only 26.2%.

Mr. Chung was seen as the proxy for the incumbent, Roh Moo-hyun, and the electorate was unhappy with the sluggish growth of the last five years under Roh.

Sluggish is a comparative term, of course. Nearby, the Japanese government just announced that its only predicting growth of 2% in its next fiscal year. The growth that makes Koreans so unhappy has been at about 4.5% annual. Still, it was a good deal more than that in pre-Roh years.

Mr. Lee was a natural figure to replace the current leadership under such conditions, as a former executive within the Hyundai corporate empire.

East Asia in general is a crucial economic driver for the world's economy, and South Korea is in the thick of it, so everyone has a special reason, not just distant philanthropic sentiment but a genuine basis in self interest, to wish the best for the people of the half peninsula.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.