[editorial] Blame for Kim's Diplomatic TeamSeoul's diplomatic team is blowing its own horn over a Kim-Bush summit that supposedly yielded "results." We cannot help but wonder, however, if they have analyzed unfolding international situations. Instead of self-congratulation, they should deeply reflect on why it took this long to confirm a gap in the perception of North Korea between Seoul and Washington.
Given that Seoul was concerned about Mr. Bush's opposition or lukewarm support for its reconciliation and cooperation policy toward North Korea, it was an achievement to reconfirm his endorsement of its policy. Nevertheless, no progress was made in correcting the U.S. perception of North Korea, in which President Kim took great stock. Rather, the Bush camp did not conceal that it had a bad impression of North Korea. While President Bush was "skeptical" of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and defined North Korea as a nation where no freedom is guaranteed and no freedom of speech exists, Secretary of State Colin Powell called Kim Jong-il a dictator. They said these words in President Kim's face or while he was in Washington.
The Bush team can be called rude for saying these things in full knowledge of the guest's purpose in paying the visit, but more important is that the Korean government take a cold, hard look at whether its diplomacy's lack of coordination, inexperience and incapability played a role in this outcome. Seoul made a diplomatic misstep when it agreed to endorse the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, without giving a second thought to the certainty that the Bush administration's approach would differ from the Clinton administration's. President Kim was forced to soothe Washington, saying that it would have been better had the phrase not been included in the Korean-Russian joint communique. Then what happens with Moscow? For a single misstep, the damage to national interest is huge. Yet, the diplomatic team puts forth far-fetched excuses.
It is common sense that to maximize national interest, timely preparation based on accurate analysis is needed at the mere sign of change on the international stage. Seoul's diplomatic team should be held responsible for having been oblivious to changes in the United States, on which the national interest as well as survival depend.