[LETTERS to the editor]An open letter to Amb. VershbowThe news of your appointment as the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea was received with enthusiasm and great expectations by many Korean Americans, which now number over 1.2 million. They felt that given your highly distinguished service record as the NATO ambassador, you would be an ideal diplomat to usher in a new age of improved US-North Korea relations, leading to a peaceful and denuclearized Korean peninsula.
Contrary to these expectations however, your blunt comments about North Korea and unwarranted criticism of South Korea’s inter-Korean policies have become a cause of great concern.
You called North Korea a “criminal regime,” and harshly described its human rights record. You defended the recent U.S. financial sanctions on North Korea, which derailed the last six-party talks, as justified by alleged counterfeiting by North Korea. You stunned many South Koreans by criticizing their efforts for South-North rapprochement and by suggesting that their economic aid for North Korea, which they largely view as a humanitarian effort, be tied to the progress of the six-party talks.
Mr. Vershbow, in the hearts of most Koreans, whether they live in Korea or overseas, the two Koreas are not two different entities foreign to each other. Rather, it is a single nation with 74 million Korean people, where 24 million of them live in the northern half. To all Koreans, an eventual political and economic reunification is imperative, and military conflict is not an option under any circumstance.
North Korea is in need of change, and a new political and economic paradigm is much sought after. Under continuous U.S. threat since the end of the Korean War, North Korea is very sensitive about security. They are also sensitive about legitimacy and respectability, which have been compromised as a consequence of xenophobia resulting from isolation, on-going sanctions and paralyzing embargoes imposed by the US. For positive changes to come about, North Korea needs to be understood, helped and coaxed. Mr. Vershbow, we beseech you to refrain from needlessly provocative rhetoric and heed to the yearning of the Korean people for a peaceful resolution to problems on the Korean peninsula.
by Moon J. Pak