[OVERSEAS VIEW]An imaginary letter from Kim Jong-il

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[OVERSEAS VIEW]An imaginary letter from Kim Jong-il

Dear President Bush:
Your two-term presidency will end in 2009. Looking back, you must realize what a challenge it’s been. Despite 9/11 and Katrina, America remains strong. My country also suffered from natural disasters. My country is now stable. You and I have the opportunity to improve our relations.
Before you retire to your Texas ranch in 2009, you could leave a much more positive legacy.
During your recent Asian trip, President Bush, you found a dynamic economy, with growing commercial interdependency. In fact, you visited a new stock market in Ho Chi Min City. During the APEC summit, you discussed expanding trade opportunities, as well as the future of my country. You discovered that most APEC countries prefer open commerce more than anything else.
Mr. President, would you please consider instructing your trusted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to forge a bipartisan outreach mission to Pyongyang? I value America the most among all the surrounding powers of the Korean Peninsula. I am willing to abandon my nuclear program, as I promised in September 2005 in Beijing. Your creative outreach mission could initiate human interaction, to promote a long-term reconciliation process, to explore American business opportunities and to bring about eventual normalization of the relationship between our two countries. I pledge to bring about complete and verifiable denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. This was my father’s wish before he passed away in 1994. For you, such a mission would help you establish a positive, lasting legacy of your presidency. May I suggest a comprehensive and bipartisan delegation?
Mr. President, would you consider including Laura Bush in the delegation? I understand she has a life-long interest in children. Korean young children are very eager to learn English and science. I would also welcome Senator Richard Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn. I understand they have a serious interest in dismantling nuclear facilities through the Nuclear Threat Initiatives.
Another person in particular I would welcome is Rev. Franklin Graham. As you may know, my father gladly approved, in meeting with Rev. Billy Graham in 1984, his mother Ruth’s dream to rebuild the Soongsil academy in Pyongyang where she studied. You may know this was the first American mission outreach in 1906. The academy became the beacon of enlightenment and hope for all of Korea under Japanese domination. Dr. Steve Linton comes to my country frequently with medical equipment. He speaks Korean better than my own people. Finally I would welcome Ambassador Christopher Hill, your special representative to the six-party talks. Ambassador Hill met my representative Kim Gye-gwan in Beijing. He needs to visit my country personally.
Mrs. Bush and the delegation can visit a Protestant Church, Bong-Soo in Pyongyang. Perhaps Dr. Rice can play her favorite hymn on the Young Chang Piano. We produced this piano ourselves with Yamaha technology from Japan. They can also ride the Pyongyang subway. Our subway is an improved version of the Moscow subway. It is much deeper underground to provide shelter, with museums at every stop. They will find that not everyone starves in Pyongyang. But I must admit that Pyongyang is different from the rest of my country.
Mr. President, I have to decide between guns and butter. As you know, I want to have nuclear weapons for my own country’s defense. Since we have them now, we feel much safer. They are not for sale. I want to improve relations with you now, rather than waiting for the uncertain future beyond 2008. After this initial trip, Mrs. Bush perhaps could persuade you to come to Pyongyang so that we can meet face-to-face. You may be able to open a stock market in Pyongyang. That may help you retire proudly in 2009 in your Texas ranch.
Sincerely and best wishes,

*The writer, a native of Pyongyang, is a professor of International Political Economy at Drexel University (Philadelphia).


by Kim Jong Il

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