[EDITORIALS]Troubling Words on Unification

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[EDITORIALS]Troubling Words on Unification

President Kim Dae-jung, in a speech marking the 53d anniversary of the nation's military on Sept. 28, said two attempts for unification in Korean history succeeded. He went on to say, "But the third attempt during the Korean War failed." The president's view on the 1950-1953 Korean War drives the Korean people into confusion. His view has its roots in neutral and value-free concepts on the war, and drawing a parallel to the national unification achieved by Shilla and Koryo somehow does not make sense.

The remarks are more problematic when we look at the developments of the past four months, spanning from June through September. Mr. Kim, the nation's chief executive who should be upholding and protecting the foundation of the Republic of Korea, has made remarks on historical events in contemporary Korea as if he were a third party on four different occasions. Of course, Mr. Kim has said the Korean War was a "failed attempt for unification through force," to stress the importance of peaceful unification. In the speech on Sept. 28, he made that point by saying "the fourth attempt, however, should never be carried out by force."

But no matter how effective a tool such an approach may prove to be for emphasizing peaceful unification, we, nevertheless, have to consider the limitations dictated by the times in which we live. A nation's chief executive should be even more aware of the implications. The Korean War still looms over present-day Korea. Not even a chief executive may attempt to treat the aggression and the lingering pain as if it were a matter concerning other people. On Aug. 27, while having dinner with party leaders and legislators, Mr. Kim said "The South advanced up to the Yalu River, and the North down to the Naktong River, but both sides retreated to its original position." Discerning who initiated the aggression that in effect began the Korean War is difficult based on what he said. The logic that the Korean War was a failed attempt for unification can be upheld by the North, but it cannot be our position. And we must remember, that unification achieved by Shilla and Koryo were the result of a fierce power struggle among dynasties in their transitional period. We can not draw a parallel to that.

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