Government Must Solicit Understanding at National Assembly

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Government Must Solicit Understanding at National Assembly

President Kim Dae-jung explained the South-North Joint Declaration, which was prepared in agreement with North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il, at the Seoul Airport on June 15 upon his return from his three day, two night visit to Pyongyang. More than any other time, people paid close attention to President Kim's every word.

The very next day, President Kim called a cabinet meeting and clearly announced that 'there would not be war.' He also ordered the officials to prepare follow-up measures. He had an extremely busy day making a telephone call to Grand National Party President Lee Hoi-chang and inviting former presidents and important government officials from the administrative, legislative and judiciary bodies to recieve an explain of the outcome of the visit to Pyongyang. Since the summit was a landmark event, it is certainly understandable that the president would delivere an explanation of the outcome to the elder statesmen of this nation as well as those from the surrounding friendly countries. Moreover, it is highly appropriate that the government and ruling party rush to execute any plans resulting from the visit.

Frantic and confused feelings were not confined to people in politics and the government. "What will come next?" has become one of the first phrases in everyday conversation. In addition, doubts are being raised following the initial euphoria. There are people who are worrying “if everything is really alright.” Moreover in some cases, confusion over existing ideological conflicts and the nations sense of values has increased.

Under these circumstances, the opposition party seems ready to dispute the proposal for reunification through confederation that President Kim suggested, saying that this plan was not an official national proposal, only a personal theory. Furthermore, the opposition party is also alarming the people, some of whom are currently taking a fantastical view of the outcome, by clearly announcing their standpoint. Although they promised cooperation that would transcend the differences between political parties, they can not just agree on everything, especially since there are many points of contention and doubt.

It is possible that the Joint Declaration, which marked a great turning point in the easing of tension on the Korean Peninsula and created an atmosphere for reunification, could become the factor that acts to escalate political conflicts, but this must not happen. It would be extremely unacceptable if the Joint Declaration became the focus of internal disputes in stead of a statement that helps to realize the hopes carried by the Korean people for 55 years.

Most importantly, national support for the declaration must be garnered since serious popular and economic support will be required to carry it out. In order to establish popular support for the declaration any doubts and misconceptions about the statement must be resolved or clarified right from the beginning. For this we must look to the example of the United States where any major issue that is discussed with a foreign power is explained before the National Assembly, both the process and the outcome of the discussions, in an attempt to solicit understanding and support. Therefore, it is most appropriate that an explanation is provided to the elder statesmen and is communicated to the people through TV.

However, it is even more important that a report be given at the National Assembly, the core for the people's will, to seek the understanding needed to reach a true national concensus and gain support that can transend political parties‘ differences. If the president is unable to make the report in person, then it is essential that he show his sincerity by having a minister act for him to explain the declaration at the general session of the National Assembly or to a standing committee. The opposition party must act responsibly, objecting to only those articles they truely find contentious and cooperating on the reasonable and sound issues for the betterment of the nation.

by Choi Won-gi

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