[VIEWPOINT]Lying in the name of diplomacyWith Kim Jong-il outed as a liar after admitting to his secret nuclear weapons program, a long shadow of doubt has fallen over more than the sunshine policy. It's suddenly become tough to believe anything Mr. Kim says.
For example, we once firmly believed that he covered the par-72 Pyeongyang Golf Course in 19 shots. But think about it: 17 holes-in-one. Can this really be true?
The pernicious thing about liars is that they make you doubt your doubts. Perhaps he did manage this feat -- by using magnetic balls. On the other hand, maybe he never played golf and the North Korean press just made it up. The reporters probably think that if the leader tells whoppers, it's fine for them to make up the occasional story under deadline pressure.
I retrieved this from an article about the Dear Liar in the Rodong Shinmun, the Workers' Party organ, a few weeks ago: "The General has comprehensively effloresced and developed the advantages of the Korean nation." Excuse me?
It gets worse: "The General has trained the Korean people to have such a strong national character that they do not fear any moves of the imperialists." There's a lie within a lie. We know the people fear that the imperialists are going to stop sending rice.
Kim Jong-il was quite the fashion here in the South a couple of years back after his summit meeting with our own Brilliant Strategist and Peerless Democrat Dissident Turned President. But now disbelief gnaws like a rat at the ropes of our affection.
And what's this "General" thing anyway? I found a column on the Internet stating he was a "Marshal." "It is the greatest fortune for our nation to have the Marshal, the peerlessly great man, as its leader," it said. So what is it, general or marshal? Or neither? He probably avoided military service altogether. Do you seriously think he could drop and give you 10 push-ups?
The column quoted a "professor surnamed Kim at Seoul National University" -- yeah, right, talk about making up quotes -- praising the marshal as "The peerlessly great man, as the sun giving light and vigor to the nation, the savior of the nation who defends and takes care of the life of the nation, and the great father taking upon himself the destiny of the nation and giving an everlasting life to all people." I think we've had enough, haven't we?
The only glimmer of goodness I see is that he did actually confess when confronted with the evidence about the nukes. I mean, when presented with the pictures, he didn't say -- to rephrase former President Bill Clinton -- "It depends on your definition of nuclear." He didn't distract or deny: "You'll note, the word 'arsenal' is composed of two words, 'arse' and 'nal.' The first is what I feel like right now and the second is a mystery."
Let's think about the context of all this. In the last few months he: apologizes for a naval attack on southern ships, visits Russia and China and hosts Japan, admits to and apologizes for kidnapping Japanese citizens, announces troop reductions, participates in the Busan Asian Games. And now he admits to churning a nuclear program.
He's after something. But what on earth could it be? Diplomatic relations? The Korean War peace treaty that Pyeongyang keeps insisting on and the United States keeps saying no to? Maybe he's got religion. He wants the world to dig deep into its pockets and give generously. But he knows that first he must be forgiven. Embraced. Hugged. "Welcome, brother Jong-il."
The most obvious answer -- because this is what North Korea is publicly demanding -- is that he wants the United States to sign a nonaggression pact and if the nuclear card is his only bargaining chip, he at least has got to show it.
But you have to read between the lines here. "Nonaggression" is Bolshevik Speak. A nonaggression pact is a ploy used by a liar to get an honest man to hold his hands behind his back while the liar beats him. It's in the Liar's Manual.
I think we've got a pattern here.
* The writer is the managing director of Merit/Burson-Marsteller and author of "The Koreans." He is a member of the JoongAng Daily's Ombudsman Committee.
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