[OUTLOOK]Gambling on Pyongyang’s goalsPresident Roh Moo-hyun is not finished with his coalition plan. His plan is now knocking on the door of the North Korean Workers’ Party. In a speech at the National Assembly, Moon Hee-sang, the chairman of the Uri Party, has already expressed his intention to have an inter-party exchange with the North Korean Workers’ Party, which has not given up its policy goal of communizing the Korean Peninsula. He has also proclaimed that he would visit Pyongyang to oversee the launching of ties. Although the public’s attention on the issue has been diluted by the controversy over Professor Kang Jeong-koo’s pro-Pyongyang remarks and Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae’s intervention in law enforcement, the exchange between the Uri Party and the North Korean Workers’ Party is already a fait accompli.
However, the support rating for the Uri Party remains around 10 percent, while the North Korean Workers’ Party represents virtually the entire northern part of the Korean Peninsula. As lawmaker Yoo Ihn-tae, former Blue House senior secretary for political affairs, remarked, the North Korean Workers’ Party is too formidable and complicated for the Uri Party, which can break apart once the election system changes, to deal with. If it recklessly approaches the Workers’ Party requesting exchan-ges, it can easily be bossed around and become a springboard for Pyongyang’s unification tactics.
Nowadays, North Korea’s maneuvers and tactics for unification are more advanced and aggressive than ever. Recently, North Korea released a photo of its late leader Kim Il Sung guiding Kim Gu, who had visited Pyongyang for an inter-Korean meeting in April 1948, for the first time in 57 years, and sent a copy of the photo to Seoul. In addition, thousands of South Koreans visited the North to attend the Arirang Festival, a mass gymnastics and dance performance, and one activist even gave birth in Pyongyang, right in time for the 60th anniversary of the Workers’ Party. The timing of the delivery is said to be a coincidence, but the explanation is unconvincing.
That is not all. A former partisan fighter, who is on security probation and who killed five South Korean soldiers during the Korean War, was allowed to visit the North. But when asked whether he wanted to go to Pyongyang, he responded without hesitation, “No, someone must stay behind and quietly do his job.” What did he mean by that? It means, without a doubt, pro-Pyongyang activities and propaganda in the South.
Despite the presence of the National Assembly and political parties, the prime minister, reading a speech on behalf of the president at the Assembly, suddenly suggested the creation of a Joint Conference for Grand National Integration and proclaimed that it would be launched within the year. It might be intended to prepare for inter-Korean collaboration in the form of a conference attended by political parties and social organizations from both sides.
Therefore, Justice Minister Chun’s exercise of authority might not be a mere approach in terms of human rights concerns over Mr. Kang. It could be more meaningful as a signal to Pyongyang that the participatory government is doing its best to paralyze the National Security Law. If not, there is no reason for the Roh administration to make such an unreasonable move. The spokesman of the Ministry of Unification expressed his condolences over Yon Hyong-muk, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea and one of the closest aides to Kim Jong-il, who died a few days ago. The unprecedented sending of a condolence might as well be a friendly gesture in consideration of future inter-Korean relations.
However, what is most worrisome is the gamble the participatory government and the president are playing, with the stakes being the Republic of Korea. The support rating for the ruling party is around 10 percent, and the approval rating for the president’s national administration is barely 20 percent. As the administration has its hands tied because of its low support, government insiders may resort to drastic breakthrough tactics. The worry that the government might dare to bet the republic itself in a gamble with Pyongyang, because of this obsession, is gradually materializing.
Therefore, the worried citizens cannot help but stand up against the government. They are simply appalled by the participatory government and the Blue House, which retorts that its opponents are accusing them of being “red.” In fact, the current administration does no longer deserve its title of “participatory government.” It is shameless for an administration with so little participation from citizens to call itself “participatory government.”
These days, a daughter of a fisherman abducted by the North appeals not to the government and the president of the Republic of Korea but to North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il. What more needs to be said? Nowadays, we feel it real that Pyongyang’s goal of communization is accomplished and only the unification remains. We really have to keep alert and collect our minds in order not to be taken over. And each and every sector of society needs to speak up. To stay silent would be to commit a sin against ourselves and our descendents.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong