[Letter to the editor]Korea must take the lead in talks

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[Letter to the editor]Korea must take the lead in talks

At a European Union seminar, South Korea’s former president, Kim Dae-jung, announced his opinion about the six-party talks. His opinion is that the six-party talks have strongly optimistic effects. However, I think he is missing the most important thing. Although the North’s nuclear issue is an international problem, the countries mainly concerned are the two Koreas on the peninsula. Thus, if South Korea isn’t ready to take the lead in the six-party talks, Korea’s international political position will always be under the shadow of the United States.
I think it is important to make the South’s own positions clear toward the North and the other four parties. When I was watching the news about talks, I had the impression that South Korea had no position. If the South has the goal of unification as its own constitution says, it is up to the South to have more talks with North Korea, not the Americans. When there is conflict between North Korea and the United States, the diplomatic fallout directly comes down on South Korea. For example, reunion meetings of separate families were discontinued when the United States froze the North’s money in Banco Delta Asia.
For the United States, there was nothing to lose; however, it was heartbreaking for the separated families. Without any action from our government, we suffer diplomatic disadvantage.
After making Korea’s position clear at the meeting, the next step is to announce our own ideas. As everybody watching might have sensed, past meetings of the six-party talks seemed to be just like meetings between the U.S., North Korea and China. Japan makes its stance known about its kidnapped citizens and no more. China controls the North; North Korea talks and addresses its demands to the United States. This is the current flow of the talks. For the next round of talks, South Korea should be ready to turn the negotiation into one not only led by the two Koreas, but also focused on topics that could involve every other nation.
The six-party talks have resulted in taking steps closer to America’s diplomatic philosophy. From now on, in preparing for the talks, South Korea should show some diplomatic muscle to the world, and play a convincing role in bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula.
Lee Sang-oun,
a student at Waseda University in Japan

Get real about Korean agriculture
I found “Competition is not a curse” (Outlook, May 7) very disturbing. The writer, Sung Jin-keun, is too sanguine about Korean agriculture.
Korean agricultural products may be among the best, but they cannot compete with other products from around the world. There are goods that are sold cheaper with the same or better quality. Even if we do sell products that are superior in quality, what use will it be when most consumers want cheap products with fair quality? Besides, high priced goods are aimed at the wealthy, not at the majority. It would ruin many farmers if we break the trade barrier. What good is buying overseas products while exporting goods with small profits?
Before thinking of breaking the barrier, I suggest that we strengthen our agriculture. What we need is not high-quality products for a few, but fair-quality products for many.
Shin Dong-han,
a student at Baek-Seok High School
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