Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Korea's "New Right"

Monday's Joong Ang Daily has an interesting article on the Korean "New Right." I happened to see it because I subscribe to the International Herald Tribune, and the two papers are distributed together. Titled "The 'New Right': How new is it?," the article contains photos of three prominent members in this emerging political movement. The middle photo's caption caught my eye: "Shin Il-chul."

Yes, the very man whom I was introduced to in my March 1 luncheon meeting with Mr. Min Young Bin, founder of YBM Si-sa.

The article reports that Shin recently lectured on the New Right:

"The New Right is against the current administration, which possesses such characteristics of the 'Old Left' as being pro-North, anti-market and anti-liberty," Shin Il-chul, a philosophy professor at Korea University, said at a lecture last month. "The New Right has a vision for reform and progress under the flag of liberty."

From my own talk with Shin as well as from an NKHR lecture that he gave in 2001, I know that by "liberty," he means more than merely economic freedoms. At that meeting, he told me that he intends the liberal tradition's grounding in human rights. Neither the left nor the right in Korea have emphasized this, he explained, and he argued that this neglect is the main flaw in the "Sunshine Policy" of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

Shin thinks that engagement with the North should have been modeled on the Helsinki Accords, which emphasized human rights and cited the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If this had been an integral part of South Korea's Sunshine Policy, then economic engagement would have been conditional upon the North's commitment to human rights.

According to the Joong Ang article, Shin's emphasis upon human rights is shared by others in the New Right, and they criticize the traditional conservatism of the Grand National Party for its neglect of human rights. The entire article is available online and is worth reading.


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