“We, progressives, have to carefully examine what is holding us back from moving forward. It is no longer simply due to confrontation within the progressive group, between those advocating National Liberation and those seeking People Democracy.”
Sim Sang-jeong of the Justic Party, a left-leaning political party, has recently published a book ‘Learning from mistakes.‘ In 1980, she created the first female student council at Seoul National University and she took the lead in labor movement in Guro Industrial complex. Due to this movement, she has been on the police ‘Wanted‘ list for nine years. Later in 2000, she created the Democratic Labor Party with her colleagues. Since then she has been known as the icon of the progressives.
She argues that the progressives have to decide on the right path. The progressives have failed to gain more power even when their approval rating was around 20%. Also, they were no longer viewed as part of emerging political alternatives for laborers and working families. While laborers began to withdraw support for the progressives, party leaders could not come up with strategies to overcome the challenges. Sim believes all the progressives, including herself, have the responsibility.
In 2011, the Unified Progressive Party(UPP) was created to make a breakthrough. Nevertheless, the party has been embroiled in a vote-rigging scandal during the latest proportional representation primary. Since then more people have turned their back on the party and looked to Ahn Cheol-soo who has been calling for “new politics.”
As for North Korean issues, ”We need to go beyond peaceful unification. To that end, we need pragmatic methods. On top of that, we need to regain people‘s trust and support,” said Sim.
“Merely being nice to North Korea will get us nowhere. It will not enhance inter-Korean relations nor improve our situation. It will only discourage the public from building trust in us.”
Sim said, ”The ruling Saenuri Party and President Park successfully presented a vision to 'reform themselves.' We have underestimated their commitment.”
“We have to find the right path. This is one of the greatest challenges that lie ahead of us.”