Taiwan's problem lies in national identity and the lack of a sense of self-determination, South Korean philosopher Kim Young-oak said yesterday.
"Many people might feel offended when I ask, `is Taiwan a country?'" Kim said. "Taiwan's history clearly tells us one thing: Most Taiwanese people seldom think about Taiwan as an independent country. Taiwan's history is a colonial history and this colonial ideology makes its people anticipate that someone will govern them, rather than establish a country of their own."
Taiwan's political independence was important, but its cultural independence was more significant, Kim said at a book launch in Taipei. The 58-year-old is known as "The King-Maker" for campaign strategies that helped South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun get elected three years ago.
Known for his versatility in South Korea, Kim obtained master's degrees in comparative philosophy from National Taiwan University and the University of Tokyo before getting a doctorate at Harvard University. He founded the Korea Institute for Classical Studies in Seoul.
When Kim met President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in August 2003, he predicted that Chen would be re-elected in the following year's presidential election, which later proved true.
Council for Cultural Affairs Vice Chairman Wu Ching-fa (吳錦發), who spoke at the same event, likened thinkers such as Kim to "ballast" that helps give a country stability.
Wu said Taiwan and other Asian countries must make efforts to form Asian values rather than accepting US values and thinking such values were their own.
Because both Taiwan and South Korea were once ruled by the Japanese and struggled through poverty, Wu said the two countries must work together for a brighter future.
National Policy Adviser to the President Chin Heng-wei (金恆煒) held a similar view to Kim on the Constitution, saying that only rectifying the national title and writing a new constitution would help ensure Taiwan's sovereignty.