[FORUM]U.S. relations require alterations

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[FORUM]U.S. relations require alterations

Guus Hiddink knows how to compete against the United States. He showed his strategic abilities in a fierce battle that ended in a draw. Mr. Hiddink knew the Americans' tactics and he disguised ours. Also, he had an unyielding spirit that was shown in that he didn't change the player who failed to make a penalty kick in the first half, Lee Eul-yong. By refusing to assail Mr. Lee, Mr. Hiddink showed great confidence.

Eventually, Mr. Lee went on to assist Ahn Jung-hwan's goal in second half of that match. All of Korea then saw Mr. Ahn's celebration, which was done to rid this country of the bad memory of Salt Lake City.

America has always presented certain worries to modern Korea. Relations with the United States have consisted of cooperation, intervention, hope, anger, pride or humiliation. To us, the United States came as a friend or arrogant patron on the way to modernization and industrialization. The support of the United States was very strong and the umbrella that protected us from strong sunlight was very cozy.

Meanwhile, conflicts arose whenever we attempted to get out from beneath U.S. intervention. Bitterness has repeatedly appeared over how Korea has been treated as a small and weak nation.

In our modern history, President Park Chung Hee has been the biggest anti-American figure. He stood against the United States by using self-reliance in national defense while the United States threatened him by raising the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from Korea in the 1970s. Mr. Park's independent defense policy stimulated the United States until his policy ended in gunshots. After Mr. Park's sudden death on Oct. 26, 1979 the secret confrontations between the two nations were revealed.

Mr. Park's death shows well how wrong the left-wing historical perspective is that automatically combines pro-America with anti-communist and anti-America with pro-unification or democratization. Such a dichotomy used in analyzing history shows a lack of imagination and sensitivity. If we only depended on such dichotomy this way of thinking would even distort the relations between the two countries. It would be more accurate to analyze the history of the relationship only by adopting a perspective of how each leader of the nation tried to take advantage of the United States for our nation's sake.

This methodology of using the United States requires composure, a profit-oriented mind and a zeal for national interest. Such a leadership also defined President Syngman Rhee, although he is still criticized as being a dictator at the end of his presidency.

Mr. Rhee also accepted Japanese sympathizers in his government, and the good wishes of the United States were granted to him. That is why Mr. Rhee is still blamed for playing a key role in the division of the Korean Peninsula. No one is allowed to forget that such criticism was unleashed by communist groups willing to saddle him with the responsibilities of the division in the middle of competition between the South and the North.

In spite of people's attempts, the truth of history never changes. In fact, Mr. Rhee's policy toward the United States is full of persuasion and challenge by breaking the trusteeship made by the United States and the Soviet Union. To do this was to claim that the trusteeship ignored our willingness for independence and contained the dangerous possibility of leading all of Korea to communism. By cooperating with Kim Gu, Mr. Rhee broke down the trusteeship while the United States, which had supported Kim Kyu-shik, preferred a coalition between the rightists and leftists. At that time, the United States disliked Mr. Rhee.

However, that practical policy did not last long. The Kim Young-sam government handled the United States only with pride in democratization, and could not get any aid when the financial crisis broke. The Kim Dae-jung government gave priority to ideology, and it lost balance between justification and interests.

We must now change the methodologies in coping with the United States. The age of a dichotomy dividing anti- and pro-American groups is over. Most of all, we have to adopt a new policy based on our national interests.


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The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo

by Park Bo-gyoon

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