President Yoon, holding the New Right flag, ‘charges’ against out-of-date ideological rule

As President Yoon Seok-yeol’s declaration of ‘ideological politics’ and attempts to overturn history have recently become more intense, some are assessing that these actions are in line with the New Right worldview. The same context includes the government’s strong will to re-evaluate former President Syngman Rhee, the ‘floating’ of General Paik Sun-yup, who has a history of pro-Japanese relations, and the focus on human rights issues in North Korea instead of exchanges and cooperation with North Korea.

President Yoon’s recent remarks are full of ideological and hostile words such as ‘freedom’ and ‘anti-state forces’. He said, “Communist totalitarian forces have always disguised themselves as democracy activists, human rights activists, and progressive activists and engaged in false propaganda and base and immoral operations” (15th of last month, Liberation Day celebration speech), “The most important thing is ideology” (28th of last month) , People Power Party Workshop), and “Communist totalitarian forces and opportunistic followers are inciting anti-Japanese sentiment” (last 1st, National Diplomatic Academy 60th Anniversary Ceremony), pouring out ideological messages regardless of time and place.

This approach is very similar to the perception of the New Right in the past. Originally, the New Right was a line that spread in the United States and Europe starting in the 1960s as a reaction to progressive, post-authoritarian social change. However, in Korean politics, it emerged around 2000 mainly among people from the National Liberation ( NL ) movement , including the converted Juche faction . Because they have changed their firmly held beliefs, they are generally very negative and hostile toward the North Korean regime and forces friendly to it. Although they claim that ‘we must break away from outdated ideologies’, they sometimes show more extreme right-wing aspects.

‘Liberal democracy’, which President Yoon has emphasized since his inauguration, is also a word that came to life when New Right scholars brought it to the public forum during the Lee Myung-bak administration. The New Right argues that ‘liberal democracy’ is a universal and excellent system around the world, and a foundation for protecting the country from North Korea’s standoff and achieving economic growth. In 2011, the New Right-affiliated Korean Society of Modern History used this logic to push through the argument that ‘liberal democracy’ should be written instead of ‘democracy’ in newly created elementary, middle, and high school history textbooks. Criticism and controversy continued in academia, saying, “The concept is ambiguous” and “No basis can be found in the Constitution.” For this reason, this word disappeared from textbooks under the Moon Jae-in administration, but the new government that took office last year decided to use liberal democracy again starting from textbooks in 2025.

During the Roh Moo-hyun administration, most New Right groups, including the National New Right Coalition, Liberal Solidarity, Zeitgeist, Citizens’ Council for a Right Society, and the Korean Peninsula Advancement Foundation, began to consolidate their power. Most of them supported candidate Lee Myung-bak in the 2007 presidential election and later entered Yeouido, the Blue House, and the economic circles. The year was successful. After being largely defeated and discouraged in the 2012 general election, it reached the peak of its organizational power by ‘risking everything’ to promote government-designated textbooks during the Park Geun-hye administration. Afterwards, it lost its power as a collective force during the Moon Jae-in administration, but is being appointed to key positions under the Yoon Seok-yeol administration.

For example, Minister of Unification Kim Young-ho, who began his term last July, previously served as the chairman of the steering committee of ‘New Right ThinkNet’, a think tank for New Right scholars, and has a history of working in ‘Textbook Forum’, a New Right historical organization launched in 2005. Kim Kwang-dong, chairman of the Past History Committee for Truth and Reconciliation, participated in the writing of the New Right Alternative Textbook on Korean modern and contemporary history in 2008, and Lee Bae-yong, chairman of the President’s National Education Committee, was a figure who pushed for the nationalization of history textbooks during the Park Geun-hye administration.

Lee Dong-kwan, chairman of the Korea 토토사이트Communications Commission, said in a column he wrote while he was head of the political department of the Dong-A Ilbo in 2004, “The critical awareness of the New Right comes from the fact that its radical line is damaging the constitutional spirit of liberal democracy and the market economy,” and called the New Right an alternative to conservative politics. presented. Kim Moon-soo, chairman of the Economic, Social and Labor Committee, transformed 180 degrees from a labor activist to a far-right politician and was evaluated by the New Right camp as a “model of the New Right.” Kang Gyu-hyeong, director of the Korea Educational Broadcasting Corporation ( EBS ) (professor at Myongji University), participated as a member of the history textbook compilation review committee during the Park Geun-hye administration, and had previously evaluated General Hong Beom-do’s activities in the Soviet Communist Party as ‘anti-national.’

These appointments appear to also have an impact on the government’s anti-communist policies and decision-making. The fact that the Ministry of Unification deleted exchange and cooperation functions with unification in mind and reorganized its organization to focus more on North Korean human rights issues is interpreted to be unrelated to the appointment of Kim Young-ho as Minister of Unification. The person who led the government’s recent push to relocate the bust of General Hong Beom-do at the Korea Military Academy is New Right professor Na Jong-nam, who participated in writing the modern history textbook during the Park Geun-hye administration.

The dominant interpretation is that the colonial modernization theory advocated by the New Right is based on the announcement of a third-party reimbursement method for victims of forced mobilization during the Japanese colonial period last March and the subsequent improvement in relations with Japan. It was an arbitrary decision without any social consensus process, just adding an explanation that close contact with the United States and Japan was inevitable under the international situation where the new Cold War structure was solidified. Looking at the policy actions that reflect the view of the country that promotes ‘anti-communism’ and criticizes criticism of the government, the dogmatic behavior that turns even reasonable conservatives against it, and the unreasonable view of history, the ‘8/15 National Foundation Day argument’ and the history textbook debate will also be seen in the future. There are many predictions that it will happen again.

Political scientists pointed out that it seems unlikely that President Yoon will change the way he runs state affairs, which focuses on confrontation between regimes. Kim Yun-cheol, a professor of political science at Kyung Hee University’s Humanitas College, told the Hankyoreh, “President Yoon seems to have decided to exercise his political power by relying on his strong right-wing, conservative ideological tendencies. “This is the background that brought the New Right together,” he said, pointing out, “As they reveal their anti-communist conservative and reactionary tendencies and engage in ideological politics, they are only focused on confronting the system inside and outside, so they are only engaging in politics that causes conflict.” Kim Hyeong-cheol, a research professor (political science) at the Democracy Research Center at Sungkonghoe University, said, “President Yoon’s excessive biased ideology and authoritarian behavior through mobilizing assessment agencies such as the prosecution are interpreted as his will to run a more powerful and arbitrary government than during the Lee Myung-bak administration.”

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