[FOUNTAIN]Korea needs strong U.N. connections

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[FOUNTAIN]Korea needs strong U.N. connections

On Sept. 26, 1996, a North Korean submarine with 26 armed spies infiltrated into South Korea off coast of Gangneung. The incident put the entire nation into a panic until 13 of them were killed by South Korean forces, 11 committed suicide and one was captured. The case was handed over to the United Nations for further discussion.
After a heated debate, the United Nations Security Council adopted a statement criticizing Pyeongyang. Although China strongly opposed the idea, Park Su-gil, then South Korean Ambassador to the United Nations, led the argument and carried out Seoul’s position. It may not sound like a great feat, but the result was far more meaningful than one might imagine.
South Korea was part of the process to adopt the Security Council chairman’s statement in 1996 because South Korea was a non-permanent member of the council at the time. United Nations Security Council members are very powerful. That’s why Japan, Germany, India and other nations are working so hard to obtain a permanent seat on the council amid the discussion to reform the Security Council structure.
If the United Nations Security Council is expanded to 24 seats, can Korea become a member? Unfortunately, it may be a distant dream. The United Nations’s panel leading the reform discussion proposed that the qualification criteria of new member nations should be based on contributions to the United Nations budget, the amount of official development assistance (ODA) and numbers of dispatched peacekeeping troops.
Let’s compare South Korea and Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade compared South Korea’s 2003 statistics with Japan’s 1985 figures, when the two nations achieved the $10,000 per-capita national income. When South Korea and Japan’s income level were about the same, Japan’s ODA was $3,796 when Korea’s was only $365. Japan contributed 19 percent of the total United Nations budget while South Korea contributed only 2 percent. Japan is eyeing a seat on the Security Council because it is the world’s second largest contributor to the United Nations. I am concerned that South Korea might be seen as advocating globalization but is stingy with the noble obligations of contributing to the United Nations.

by Ahn Sung-kyoo

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