A careless manUnification Minister Lee Jae-joung keeps making careless and controversial remarks. He has caused alarm with inappropriate remarks, such as “The South Koreans must think seriously about how hard they have worked for reunification.” Recently he said, “Some South Koreans who are in the North went there of their own accord.” This is a truly careless and thoughtless remark.
There are basic principles and virtues that the unification minister of this divided country must have. One of them is to think seriously about the possible effect on North and South Korea before making remarks.
He must not spit out immature convictions without sufficient consideration, in order to avoid unnecessary arguments and controversy between the South and the North and among South Koreans.
But it is hard to find any effort at maturity in Minister Lee’s remarks and acts.
A unification minister must do his best to resolve the issue of South Koreans who were abducted by the North and still remain there. At least, he must display an attitude and effort to do so. But Lee has handled the issue as if it was a problem that does not concern him.
Under the former unification minister, there was a plan to have family members of those who were kidnapped by the North meet through a special channel, other than the usual channel used by other separated family members. But this plan has now fallen through.
The former unification minister used to stage events to cheer up family members of those who were kidnapped by the North, but Lee has not staged any such events. Instead, he makes the bizarre claim that some of those believed to have been abducted chose to go North, which sounds like agreement with North Korea’s position.
Families of these abductees have already had decades of agony, but his words hurt remaining family members, instead of soothing their tears.
He has also kept changing his stance on rice assistance to North Korea, which also makes it seem like he is the wrong person for the position.
At a ministerial-level meeting with North Korea, he informed the North that we would delay rice shipments.
Days later, however, on his Web site he posted a statement that said, “Rice must go because that means life.”
In the National Assembly, he said, “As for the delay of rice aid, the president and I had the same stance.” Inter-Korean issues must no longer be left at the hands of a minister who cannot distinguish matters of state from his own personal opinions and is thoughtless about the possible impact of his remarks.