[LETTERS to the editor]Leaders should know friend from foe

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[LETTERS to the editor]Leaders should know friend from foe

In light of what is going on in international society, our government needs to change its policy toward North Korea.
To begin with, our government should be able to distinguish between our allies and enemies. Presently, our alliance with the United States and relations with Japan are slowly being dismantled because of our failure to take the proper stance and cooperate with them whenever North Korea creates trouble. George W. Bush excluded President Roh Moo-hyun from the leaders he contacted by phone to discuss the North Korean missile issue. Relations with Japan have also cooled because of our sensitive and emotional response toward Japan’s suggestion that it can consider militarily responding to North Korea. The U.S. and Japan are our closest economic partners and share the same democratic values. In contrast, North Korea has little in common with us, other than ethnicity. Our government should recognize that alienating our allies only weakens our voice on North Korean issues.
Our government needs to respond firmly to North Korea’s injustice. Our government has blindly supplied North Korea with food, fertilizers and other goods worth 1 trillion won ($1.05 billion) requested by the Kim Jong-il regime, while never officially criticizing its violations of human rights. Consequently, instead of being grateful for such support, the North Korean government has abused our goodwill. Kim Dae-jung and Chung Ju-young are two powerful South Koreans manipulated by Kim Jong-il into subsidizing the growth of its munitions industry, not the easing of the North’s poverty. It is time to take a stronger stance by cutting off our assistance to North Korea to show we have no patience with its dangerous outbursts that destabilize world peace.
Finally, it is crucial for our government to understand and convey the international situation objectively and precisely to its citizens. Unfortunately, President Roh is confusing public opinion with his favorable bias toward North Korea instead of providing stability and objectivity toward the present situation, as is his duty. Furthermore, when North Korea launched seven missiles in July, President Roh and his Uri Party, instead of condemning North Korea, spewed a barrage of criticism of the Grand National Party and the media that pointed out the government’s ineffective response. They wrongfully categorized people who reproach the president’s policy toward North Korea as anti-unification forces and ultraconservatives. In such a crisis, the president should properly fulfill his duty by stabilizing domestic anxiety and finding an effective solution after discussing the situation thoroughly with all appropriate people.
President Roh should face reality. North Korea has the most unpredictable regime in the world. It is difficult to comprehend its real intentions as it frequently breaks promises and routinely violates international rules.
How can we trust such a country and regard it as our friend?

by Andrew Taesup Park
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