Where does Roh stand?Roh Moo-hyun, presidential nominee of the Millennium Democratic Party, completely changed his position on President Kim Dae-jung's 'Sunshine policy' a few days ago. In a news conference with Japanese journalists, Mr. Roh roundly criticized Seoul? policy of engaging North Korea, saying, It has reached the limit. It it better not to use the term 'Sunshine policy'.
We agree with his criticism that The policy was not formulated with sufficient public consensus and there are suspicions that the policy was used for political purposes.
But his comments trigger doubts concerning his policy consistency. He has long maintained, He cannot tinker with the 'Sunshine policy' because there is no alternative. He stressed that he would succeed with that policy if he were elected president. Not long after that, he went further, saying, If we can successfully carry on inter-Korean dialogue, all else can go to the devil.
This sudden shift is an example of why politicians and voters are wary of Mr. Roh, even though his latest criticism of North Korea policy is to the point. Critics say the comments are intended only to distance himself from President Kim Dae-jung, whose popularity has hit bottom. Aggravating the situation, Mr. Roh reversed course again when the party chairman, Hahn Hwa-kap, scolded him about studying first before commenting on policy matters. Mr. Roh backed down just a day later, speaking metaphorically but reasonably clearly, ?oes a tree wither away when only its branches are trimmed off?Say one thing to foreign journalists, then retract it here.
Mr. Roh? crude language and frequent rhetorical reverses raise questions about the politician's ethical standards and sincerity. Expedient words do not kindle trust.
Engaging North Korea is not a one-time job that can be dropped by a certain administration or a leader. Since former President Roh Tae-woo signed the South-North Basic Agreement, engaging North Korea has been a foundation of our policy. The criticism should be not of the policy itself but how administrations and political leaders have distorted or misused it.