Dear Madame President,
Please accept my sincere congratulations and good wishes on this last day of freedom before you report for your 5-year sentence at The Blue House. It’s true, you asked for it, worked very hard to earn it, and deserve the position. I hope you won’t find the punishment too harsh, although it surely won’t be light, considering that your adversaries started to mete it out before the ink was dry on the ballots that put you in.
Personally, I have no reason to be unhappy that you won the big chair. It was a fair victory, fought and won. I can’t say whether I’d have voted for you, because I consider myself a progressive, and that makes me a left-winger, a fatal flaw in the eyes of most of those who support you most avidly. Fair enough. I say cruel things about them sometimes too, well, okay, most of the time, but only with the public welfare in mind.
President Lee Myung-bak hasn’t given me any really strong reasons to dislike him either, but his 5-rivers scheme always struck me more as an economic one than an environmental or public welfare one, and it seems I wasn’t too far off in that thinking at this stage. That’s water over the bridge, though, and I wouldn’t think of wetting you, or any other previous wearer of the Wide Sash, save your predecessor, with it. I include in that group, of course, your father. I had a father. For better or worse, I’m not him, nor was he me.
I have reached that age where there is no way to be sure that I’ll live long enough to endure another national election, either in your country or mine. I’m not a Korean. My wife is. Our daughter is. Many of my friends and relatives are, but not me. That doesn’t mean I can’t be concerned about Korea enough to want a safe and happy future for her, because I do, and most avidly. I don’t say “Korea” carelessly. I mean by it all of the Koreans occupying the land area of the Korean Peninsula. The idea of another war like the one not yet declared by either side to be finished, is a thought that so horrifies me, I become angry at the mere possibility of it happening. I’m of the opinion it shouldn’t be allowed to happen, and I have some ideas about how you might not only prevent it, but accomplish quite the opposite and procure a just and lasting peace for the people.
I’d like to share these ideas with you, Madame President. I’ve had five years since retiring from the classroom, to formulate them. I’ve enough education to avoid some of the more foolish assumptions (and presumptions) that the exercise invites.
I enjoy acknowledging difficult goals and how they might be pursued and reached by great numbers of people of good will working together. I don’t enjoy accepting the notion, often put forward by those with vested interests in alternative schemes, that such goals are impossible. The motives of those who move for early dismissal of proposals on grounds of “economic realism” are not respectable, and unworthy of those whom fortune has favored in the form of wealth earned from public custom. They are in the habit of pursuing profits and little else.
I’m not alone, as one who has not wanted or sought a position of influence and power. There are many who yet find it entertaining to muse about the challenges governments, your government, will face in pursuit of public and private good. There are many such, and our consciences are clear. We would help you to achieve your published goals of more good jobs, targeted welfare improvement, expanded education and creative culture, greater amity among citizens and, most difficult of all, happy (re)unification.
I have created the outline of an approach that tackles the last, punishingly difficult one of these five goals, while incorporating and enhancing the other four, calculated to gain global approbation for you and your government, but also for that of the northern cousins. I’m convinced that, unless it includes a way for the north to feel as much benefited by it as the south, no scheme proposed is likely to spark their interest, without them appearing to be a charity case. Best of all, it is a plan that works most to their benefit if the great majority of North Korean citizens remain exactly where they are, without wanting, or beginning, to rush for the exits.
I would be pleased to discuss it with you, or your representative at a time and place most convenient, of course.
I hope you’ll call me.