A Warning for the Upcoming TalksWith the inter-Korea summit coming up, Grand National Party(GDP)‘s President Lee Hoi-chang held a press conference to inform President Kim Dae-jung of what needs to be discussed during the two-day summit talks. First, Lee asked North Korea to follow the basic agreements between the two countries. Along with this, he asked President Kim to work hard to solve the problem of separated families. North Korea’s human rights record along with the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear and chemical weapons and the missile systems for them, were a high priority on Lee‘s list. Lee emphasised reciprocity between the two countries and said that there should be economic aid from South Korea, but only when North Korea promises not to use it for military purposes. Lee made it clear to President Kim that during his stay in the North he should not participate in any festival that praises the Socialist country‘s one man regime and that he is careful not to do anything that threatens South Korea‘s identity or national security.
We believe that the words of Lee express the views of the conservative middle class in Korea. Of course asking North Korea to improve on its human rights record is needed. Of course asking for the return of POWs from the Korean War and others who were kidnapped in important. Of course the dismantling of weapons of mass destruction needs to be discussed. But, there needs to be controls on the speed and order in with these matters are approached. If the opposition party maintains their conservative position as they have made it now, their promise to cooperate for the sake of the summit will receive a lot of fire.
But if you consider the recent atmosphere of the country, it is possible to understand Lee‘s concerns. Emotional excitement over relations between the two Koreas is being hiked up and it is confusing a lot of people.
With the agreement on the summit meetings and the visits by chorus and acrobatic groups from North Korea, it is inevitable that emotions would be running high, but some in the Korean media are beginning to get out of line, already imagining the meetings and predicting irrational events. If South Korea does not start looking at this issue in a systematic way in stead of an emotional way, there could be a lot of confusion that might even lead to anti-North sentiment.
If you look at the moves being made by countries with the summit talks upcoming, you must conclude that the problems between the South and North are not something that ends at an emotional level. The U.S. and Japan, regardless of what they say, are openly showing a lot of concern over the two Koreas. The news that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a visit to North Korea makes the present situation seem like that found during the late Chosun Dynasty, when foreign countries tried to snatch up everything in Chosun. Because of these situations, the summit talks can‘t be approach from an emotiional stance. President Kim should pay attention to the various opinions both in Korea and oversees and take a wise appproach to the inter-Korea talks.
by Kim Chong-su