[NOTEBOOK]Korea lets itself get run over

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[NOTEBOOK]Korea lets itself get run over

A nightmare became a reality. Is the situation of the Korean Empire a hundred years ago being repeated? The scenes of those times when Japan, China, and Russia were arrogantly displaying their powers on the Korean Peninsula seem to appear in a new version. China’s attempts to absorb the history of Goguryo and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s remarks on Tokto islet are just previews to this new version.
China and Japan are skillful in handling the Korean Peninsula. They do not miss any small change in the situation of Northeast Asia. Their know-how is the result of hundreds or thousands of years experience.
As soon as cracks appeared in the alliance between Korea and the United States, they instinctively penetrated the gap.
They took it as an opportunity to expand their influence. China tried to recover its influence in the entire area of North and South Korea, which it had lost after its defeat in the Sino-Japanese war in 1894. Japan has thrown off its restriction on its military power after its defeat in World War II.
The Chinese government knows us well. It sees through the problems of Roh Moo-hyun-style national independent diplomacy. The solution of the Roh administration to the stubborn nuclear weapons offensive posed by North Korea is to soothe and appease the North. And ignoring the historic achievements of the Korea-United States alliance, it shuns cooperation with the United States as toadyism.
The center of President Roh’s diplomacy is the secretariat of the National Security Council. The only country we can rely on to persuade North Korea is China. China knew this and made use of it by playing a central role in achieving the six-way talks.
Even if civic groups make resolutions to preserve the history of Goguryeo, China will turn a deaf ear because our government owes a lot to China concerning the North Korean nuclear problem. We have to beg China to help the six-party talks proceed smoothly in the future.
The core members of the Roh administration, who have behaved as if independent nationalism is their monopolistic trademark, have taken a passive attitude toward China over the issue of keeping the history of Goguryeo, because they are indebted to China.
Japan is also familiar with the blind spot of Mr. Roh’s diplomacy. As the Korea-U.S. alliance falls apart, Japan is delighted to know that the only alternative to the United States is Japan itself.
When the Korea-U.S. alliance was solid, the United States disapproved of Japan’s reinforcement of military power. Now things are different. The United States is consolidating a three-way alliance with Japan and Australia in an attempt to build a coalition against China.
The basis of Japan’s victory in Northeast Asia a century ago was the Anglo-Japanese alliance. Japan knows well how profitable it is to enter an alliance in the world of diplomacy.
At every opportunity, Japan claims Tokto islet to be its territory. There are no reasons to counteract its claim, because we might be entrapped by its strategy to bring the Tokto issue to the International Court of Justice. But I feel uncomfortable because Japan made its remarks after it has increased its military power.
In a situation where the Korea-U.S. alliance is split, we have to check Japan independently. What is worrisome is that we have no independent power and diplomatic wisdom to do so, and it has become difficult to get help from the United States.
Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are under fire because they criticized President Roh’s foreign policy. But they accurately pointed out that the National Security Council ruins President Roh’s diplomacy. The National Security Council’s national independent diplomacy revealed its historic ignorance and strategic incapability on more than one occasion.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ assertion that we should actively capitalize on the Korea-U.S. alliance is also based on the spirit of national independence. They are advocating using the United States based on geopolitical destiny and strategic dimension.
Nevertheless, the core members of the National Security Council incorrectly act as if they alone are commending the dignity of national independence. Their diplomacy is focused on improving the inter-Korean relations only within the boundaries of the Korean Peninsula.
They are not aware of the harsh and turbulent situation prevailing in the international community. China and Japan can come out triumphant over issues concerning the Korean Peninsula because of such poor diplomacy.
Should Foreign Ministry officials be punished for their criticism, for being insolent? Instead, President Roh should take the problems of the National Security Council into serious consideration, and then he should fix them. This will put Mr. Roh’s diplomacy on the right track.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Park Bo-gyoon
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