[Outlook]Summit success depends on 2008

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[Outlook]Summit success depends on 2008

President Roh Moo-hyun returned home from North Korea with a package ― the declaration of the 2007 summit meeting. Most agree that the declaration contains unprecedented contents. Most of all, the sea region below the Northern Limit Line is to become a joint fishing area.
Haeju in North Korea will also open its doors, and the railroad between Munsan and Kaesong is to be connected. North Korea said it would treat its visitors well, and it probably meant such plans.
Haeju and Nampo are important military spots for the North. To include Haeju in a special economic zone and to create a special complex in Nampo, troops and military facilities in the areas must be moved. So, defense ministers of South and North Korea will hold talks in Pyongyang in November.
A direct air route between Mount Baekdu and Seoul will open. The railway between Kaesong and Sinuiju and the expressway between Kaesong and Pyongyang will be usable soon. When North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, suggested that President Roh Moo-hyun stay one more day in Pyongyang, Roh avoided giving an answer immediately and responded prudently. That was also very good to see.
There are several things that we need to pay attention to. First, Kim Jong-il is now 65 years old. Seven years have passed since the last summit. When the first summit was held, he was 58 years old. If he was a professor, he would now be a professor emeritus. Seven years ago, he downed his glass of liquor in one gulp, but his time he took one sip and put his glass down.
In his late 20s, Kim started his tough journey as successor to Kim Il Sung. When he was barely 30, he became a politician. Kim Il Sung was 62 years old then. The junior must be well aware of how hard it is to be a successor and how much a father needs a son that he can count on. So many assume that Kim Jong-il must be preparing a successor, and this assumption is becoming more persuasive.
The declaration of the 2007 summit shows that South and North Korea will take the leading role on the Korean Peninsula, such as in talks involving many parties to formally end the Korean War.
But South-North Korean relations must be regarded more as international relations than as relations that concern only two countries.
The June 15 joint declaration released at the 2000 summit included a phrase saying we Korean nationals must cooperate and resolve the issue of reunification independently. But to resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue, we need help from the United States and China.
We must understand neighboring countries’ interests and work with them instead of shouting for self-reliance.
While the leaders of South and North Korea talked about self-reliance and independence, the six-party talks released another agreement in Beijing, proving that South-North Korean relations concern many nations.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with Kim Jong-il only once and the Japanese leader brought home Japanese citizens who had been abducted by North Korea. Two South Korean presidents met with Kim but neither even mentioned the issues of South Korean abductees or prisoners of war who remain in the North.
The South Korean entourage included the government official who led negotiations with the Taliban and said he would go to even more dangerous places to rescue Koreans. But the delegation did not bring home abductees and prisoners of war.
What can we tell the youths who enter our military if we leave them there? Those abductees and prisoners of war will remain neglected under the remnants of the Cold War, while other areas like Nampo and Haeju, where many South Koreans will go to live, like they have already gone to Kaesong and Mount Kumgang, are becoming peaceful and prosperous.
When President Roh left for Pyongyang, he said he would bring back a lot of work for the Korea Expressway Corporation and the Korea Land Corporation. He kept his promise. He brought a long list of huge projects ― the two-step development of the Kaesong Industrial Park, development for Mount Baekdu tourism, the building and repairing of expressways and railways and the building of complexes in Haeju and Nampo. These will take years to complete.
The question is time and costs. A project with a huge budget needs legislative approval. Roh has four months left in his term. That means the declaration of the 2007 summit cannot be implemented without the cooperation of the next administration. That is why it is important to have a suprapartisan North Korea policy.

*The writer is a professor of political science at Yonsei University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Yong-ho
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