[OUTLOOK]Roh could learn from Kim Jong-il

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[OUTLOOK]Roh could learn from Kim Jong-il

After last Wednesday’s missile launches by North Korea, its foreign minister released an official statement through a spokesperson.
The missile launches were a military exercise that was conducted as a normal procedure to enhance the military’s capability for self-defense, the spokesperson said. When the balance of power topples, insecurity and crisis builds and war can even break out, he added. The North’s missile development guarantees the balance of power, peace and security.
The point was that North Korea should protect its regime with a strong military so it develops missiles for that reason. This is the same logic the North used about its nuclear weapons development.
This is different from what some people believed ― that is, that North Korea does not have the ability to provoke a clash or war because its economy has been ruined. North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and missiles because it could not achieve a balance of power just with conventional weapons.
Other people believed that there would be no war because North Korea supports cooperation between all Koreans. They have been proven wrong also, because North Korea prioritizes power, not people.
North Korea has a political philosophy that the military is the most powerful and important part of its regime and a belief that it will become a powerful country through management of that power. It will protect itself with nuclear arms and missiles, no matter how bad its economy may become.
This is a natural argument for North Korea. Nobody can complain when a country wants to protect itself with its own military power. However, what does North Korea want to protect? It wants to protect Kim Jong-il’s rule. In addition, North Korea wants to achieve reunification in its own way. Reunification through communism is codified in the regulations of the Korean Workers’ Party. North Korea believes this is a benefit.
An editorial in the New York Times on June 20 analyzed the missile crisis and called both China and South Korea “friendly nations” to North Korea, and the United States and Japan opposing parties.
As if confirming this as a fact, there was no mention of South Korea in the statement by North Korea’s Foreign Minister. He criticized the United States and Japan only. Why is that? Does North Korea think it needs South Korea for the good of the North? Or, does it believe that South Korea’s military power is far behind that of the North? Probably, both were calculated.
A country that possesses nuclear weapons and a country with only conventional weapons cannot have a balance of power between them. Nuclear weapons give a country ultimate power.
North Korea believes that South Korea’s economic power is essential to maintaining its regime. Pyongyang seems to reason that it can stay afloat if South Korea keeps providing aid, even though the United States and Japan put pressure on the communist country. South Korea is now one of very few donors to the communist country.
As North Korea pursues its politics of power, it prioritizes its military. When it wants to have talks with Washington, it does not ask for meetings only. It brags about its military capacities and then attempts to drag Washington into dialogue.
This pattern appears clearly in inter-Korean relations. A test operation of the cross-border railway was agreed to in preparation for a visit to the North by former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung. But North Korea canceled at the last moment, citing rejection of the idea by its military. This shows the biggest problem in inter-Korean ties.
This is also why the Sunshine Policy has been fruitless. No matter how much South Korea helps the North by shoveling aid to it, North Korea never gives up anything when it comes to military power.
This is because it believes order is maintained by power. Therefore, the nuclear and missile crises cannot be resolved by economic cooperation.
Although North Korea abides by its beliefs about power, South Korea’s responses are not strong enough. One is talking about power; the other emphasizes dialogue and cooperation.
On June 15, an event was held in Gwangju, South Korea, to mark the 2000 summit meeting between the two Koreas’ leaders. Participants from the two countries shouted slogans of peace and reunification. It was hardly a month later that North Korea fired its missiles.
The South Korean president should make an official statement about this situation but he sticks to his “strategic silence.” If he revealed a strong stance, people might feel insecure, an aide to the president said.
But people feel even more insecure now because the president has said nothing about the missile incident. They want to know what we should do while North Korea does anything it can to increase its military power.
Anything North Korea does to enhance its power, South Korea should do the same. The source of South Korea’s power is a South Korea-U.S. alliance. But, as Seoul has made this alliance probably worse than ever, Pyongyang won’t listen to Seoul, no matter how it tries to have dialogue or negotiations with Pyongyang.
Seoul cannot resolve the North’s nuclear and missile crises by shutting its eyes to the problems. That is why the United Nations Security Council is being convened. The only possible way to resolve the North Korean issues is to work together with other nations.
If economic sanctions on the North are necessary, Seoul should halt its economic cooperation with the North.
North Korea has been working faithfully for the benefits for its country. South Korea should also protect its national benefits. That is another one of the president’s duties. I even want to tell the South Korean president that he can learn from his Northern counterpart, Kim Jong-il.

* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Moon Chang-keuk

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