[Letter to the editor]Quit coddling North Korea

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[Letter to the editor]Quit coddling North Korea

Upon hearing the news of the impending summit between the leaders of North and South Korea ― originally slated for later this month but now postponed until early October ― my initial reaction was that President Roh Moo-hyun has abandoned principle in a shameless attempt to salvage something out of his pitiful presidency.
Next I wondered how much South Korea will have to pay the North. As the first summit in 2000 between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il cost $500 million, the second is unlikely to be cheaper than the first.
While the first summit in 2000 was at least a momentous occasion as it did produce the first- ever meeting of the leaders of both Koreas and was supported by the majority of South Koreans ― who at that stage were unaware of the massive bribe that ensured such a meeting ― it probably would have happened even if Lee Hoi Chang had been president, just as Kim Young-sam was scheduled to meet with Kim Il Sung in 1994.
We can now see that the first summit’s real intention as far as North Korea is concerned was to squeeze as much money as it could from a well-intentioned but gullible South Korean government while giving the impression of change and reform. With perhaps the exception of family reunions, I’m not convinced any of the so-called benefits of the first summit are anything but a ruse by the cunning North Korean leadership to lower South Korea’s guard while at the same time accepting bucketloads of cash. On top of the $7 billion already given on President Roh’s watch, a $20 billion aid program has been promised, as well as the giving up of South Korean territorial waters and the cancellation of some joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
Well, Mr. President, the South Korean public can see this summit for what it is: you giving away the farm and more, propping up the murderous Kim Jong-il so you can claim some kind of legacy. (And stop calling it a Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was devised after Nazi Germany was defeated, not as an economic lifeline to keep it in power!)
With that amount of South Korean taxpayers’ money being given away, there is a need for there to be at least an appearance that South Korea accomplished something positive out of the summit.
My prediction is that a meaningless peace treaty will be signed ― meaningless, as it can be ignored if wanted. I know with certainty what Roh won’t ask for: improvement in the abysmal human rights of North Koreans including the closing of North Korean concentration camps, the return of kidnapped South Koreans still living in the North, the introduction of real democracy, free elections, free movement of travel, a free press, right of assembly, etc. Our human rights-defending democracy advocate isn’t going to let such trivialities rain on his parade. This is all about him, remember?
Considering the damage this guy continues to do as president, it frustrated me that when he threatened to resign last year the JoongAng Daily editorialized that he should complete his term in office.
Do you still think that was a good idea?
Brendan Brown, Itaewon, Seoul
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