[EDITORIALS]Blunders Galore at Foreign Ministry

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[EDITORIALS]Blunders Galore at Foreign Ministry

The Korean people are outraged over the repeated bungling of the Korean Foreign Ministry. They have endured the deprivation of saury fishing grounds in the southern Kuril seas, the commotion about whether South Korea supported Russia over the United States in the ABM debate and numerous instances of North Korean asylum seekers being sent back to the North. Now they learn that the ministry can't even keep its documents in order. Disappointment and outrage vie with a sense of utter hollowness.

The ministry has been so absorbed with nominal achievements such as the Korean foreign minister becoming chairman of the U.N. General Assembly that it has virtually abandoned the im-portant diplomatic task of protecting Korean citizens and properties abroad. As the ministry ad-mits, Korean expatriates have repeatedly complained about the way Korean embassies conduct consular operations. Instead of heeding these complaints, foreign service officers ignored them or blamed their working environment. Conse-quently, a fundamental solution to strengthen their sense of duty was never devised.

As Korea became the world's 11th-largest economy, the volume of commercial and private exchanges overseas grew exponentially. Consu-lar demands of Korean expatriates, students and tourists abroad also increased. But the Foreign Ministry never reorganized its structure or otherwise dealt properly with the growing volume of consular work. The ministry planted its best officials in political affairs and international trade and looked down upon the consular division.

The ministry keeps saying that the volume of consular work is overwhelming. Yet ministry officials are frequently spotted entertaining at country clubs and elsewhere. This is why there is a rumor that money is involved in issuing visas at the consulate in Shenyang. Complaints have also been lodged that a consulate in the United States failed to notice that two Korean students in Indiana were murdered. Before complaining about its working environment, the Foreign Ministry should improve service to Korean expatriates. Only then will it be able to say that the most important objective of Korean diplomacy is to protect Korean citizens and their rights abroad.
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