[FOUNTAIN]It’s now time for courage, Mr. Kim

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[FOUNTAIN]It’s now time for courage, Mr. Kim

“Mr. President, you have traveled a dark, frightening and dangerous road,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said in praise of former President Kim Dae-jung’s decision to visit Pyeongyang at their meeting four years ago. Mr. Kim’s comment might not have been inspired by the poetry of Robert Frost, but it certainly reminds us of the ending of Frost’s famous poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” The poem is meditative and lyrical, but is full of the determination of a man who wants to keep the promise of life he has made for himself.
What might seem frightening and dangerous is lovely, dark and deep. The most valuable achievements of life and history begin in pitch black. Courage triumphs over fear, and patience overcomes hardship.
At the summit meeting in Pyeongyang, Kim Jong-il promised the South Korean president that he would pay a reciprocal visit to Seoul at an appropriate time. Mr. Kim must have felt that the road to Seoul would be dangerous and dark.
When high-ranking North Korean officials came to Seoul for a celebration of the fourth anniversary of the historic summit, they reflected Mr. Kim’s fear by saying, “With the National Security Law still intact and anti-North sentiment so prevalent, Mr. Kim cannot afford to visit Seoul.”
But four years ago, President Kim, who is 17 years older than Mr. Kim, made up his mind to go to the North, whose Workers Party platform proclaims the communization of the South. Especially when the North Korean leader demanded that he pay a visit to the tomb of the late dictator Kim Il Sung, he had to ride the same vehicle with Mr. Kim. As the car passed the welcoming crowd, he waved his hands, but he later admitted that he was under extreme stress and pressure.
It is Kim Jong-il’s turn to follow the courage of President Kim. True, a considerable portion of the public considers him a cunning and selfish autocrat who starves his own people. But if he wants to eliminate the possibility of war between the two Koreas and save the North Korean people, he must overcome fear. It would be even better if he has the courage to acknowledge his role in the bombing of the Korean Air flight and apologize.

by Chun Young-gi

The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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