[FOUNTAIN]General Seo’s skills are needed todayIn 993, Khitan general Hsiao led 800,000 troops to Goryeo and demanded that it surrender. By the late 10th century, Khitans had already established the Liao Dynasty, which overwhelmed the Sung Dynasty.
The royal court of Goryeo debated whether to resist the invasion or to surrender the land north of Seogyeong, today’s Pyeongyang, to Kitai. But General Seo Hui advocated that Goryeo delay the decision until it understood the precise reason for the invasion. And he visited the Khitan camp by himself to negotiate.
The manifested reason for the invasion was that Goryeo had taken over the frontier lands of Kitai that had belonged to Goguryeo, and that the court of Goryeo served the Sung Dynasty. General Seo explained that Goryeo was a successor to Goguryeo. Also, he said that Goryeo could not have diplomatic relations with the Liao Dynasty because the Jurchens occupied the region between Goryeo and Kitai.
After seven days of negotiation, Goryeo agreed to serve Kitai and take the six counties in Gangdong, which were under Jurchen control, in return. Thanks to General Seo’s diplomatic maneuver, Goryeo avoided unnecessary fights and reclaimed its territorial rights east of the Yalu River.
The Korean government’s diplomatic caliber is far from the clever strategy of General Seo. It is not an exaggeration to say that Korea was outdone in every negotiation to sell a Korean company after the financial crisis of 1997. The Korean side lacked negotiating skills, but more importantly, the other side often had the upper hand.
Recently, the Korean Football Federation attempted to invite former Senegalese team coach Bruno Metsu to be head coach, but in vain. Mr. Metsu was criticized for his ambiguous attitude, but the federation is responsible for its unsophisticated negotiating skills.
Before the decision was finalized, the federation prematurely announced that Mr. Metsu would head the team.
When the government seems to be unilaterally outdone in crucial negotiations about the Korea-U.S. alliance or the reduction of the U.S. forces in Korea, it might be too much to expect the football federation to display clever moves. General Seo must be disappointed to see the poor performance of the negotiators today.
by Lee Se-jung
The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.