Protocol for more summitsControversy is arising over the relevance of behavior that President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il, Roh’s North Korean counterpart, showed during the inter-Korean summit that wrapped up yesterday.
As if he could not wait to use the word, Roh used the word inmin several times in public. Inmin, literally meaning people, is not used officially in the capitalist South.
Kim also changed the itinerary and venues for Roh’s three-day visit without any consultation with the South.
In his visit to Mansudae, the National Assembly of the North, Roh scribbled down without hesitation that “[This is] the venue for inmin, the source of their happiness.” At the Seohae Gapmun, a large dam in Nampo, South Pyongan Province, Roh said, “Great is the power of inmin.” He even offered a toast to Kim’s health in a dinner hosted by the North, saying, “Your longevity makes the lives of inmin comfortable.” Roh must know the subtlety and nuance that the word inmin carries. No matter how good his intentions, Roh should have avoided using the expression, given his position as head of the country where the word could be used in another way.
While watching the Arirang performance, a mass gymnastics show in Pyongyang, Roh joined a standing ovation twice, both times when the performers shouted, “Thank you, Father General.”
Roh might have felt awkward sitting still while the main hosts were standing to applaud. But damage was done to his dignity as Kim’s counterpart. And that is why we requested before his visit to the North that he refrain from attending the show.
Kim’s eccentricity was worse. According to the first joint declaration, made by Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il on June 15, 2000, it was the North leader’s turn to visit the South. Instead of showing humility, Kim acted in a way that could be interpreted as being rude by twice changing the venue where he was supposed to host Roh and moving ahead the time he was supposed to meet Roh. His peculiarity continued when he suggested that Roh extend his visit by another day. The 2007 joint declaration reads, “Their highest authorities will meet frequently for the advancement of relations between the two sides.” No one in this country is opposed to regularizing the summit.
But the protocol for the summit should be established properly. Not many people would support regular summits with eccentricity prevailing.