[Viewpoint]Five rebuttals to five criticismsT he reviews so far of the 2007 inter-Korean summit meeting have been mixed. Michael Green, former senior director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, wrote a column which ran on page 30 of the JoongAng Ilbo on Oct. 9 under the title “Five Questions about the South-North Korean Summit Meeting” that attracted my attention.
Green suggested the Blue House might have trouble trying to explain the South-North joint declaration to Washington and downplayed it as “a domestic political gesture in South Korea rather than an international agreement with any staying power.” However, there are problems with his opinion.
First, he criticized President Roh Moo-hyun for not putting enough pressure on Kim Jong-il to fulfill the Feb. 13 agreement, and made the mistake of decoupling South-North economic cooperation from denuclearization. The declaration does not specifically state North Korea’s intention to discard its nuclear weapons.
But President Roh insisted that North Korea stick to the “Korean Peninsula Denuclearization Declaration,” and Kim Jong-il called North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan to report, in front of the two leaders, the contents of the agreement reached at the six-party talks on Oct. 3. Roh also expressed a strong will to strictly observe the second stage of the disablement procedure and receive reports faithfully about the denuclearization.
Kim said he is willing to adhere to the “denuclearization declaration made on Sept. 19” and “the agreement signed on Feb. 13,” so how could Roh push for more?
Considering that the inter-Korean economic cooperation would not have been possible without the progress toward denuclearization, is it really necessary to officially state such a thing in the declaration?
The second point made by Green is that the insertion of the phrase in which both sides pledge not to interfere in the internal affairs of the other side that repudiated the importance of North Korean human rights and downplayed South Korea’s hard-earned democratic accomplishments.
Green overlooked the fact that the issue had previously been settled, according to Articles 1 and 2 of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement.
In addition, confidence building is essential for the peace, co-prosperity and national unification of both Koreas, so raising the problem of human rights, which the current North Korean regime cannot immediately accept, would not do any good.
The third criticism was that Article 3, which states, “the two Koreas must work together to oppose war on the peninsula,” only reflects the theme of the liberal camp in South Korea and “damages the U.S.-Korea alliance.” This critique makes no sense.
Article 3 is a reconfirmation of the nonaggression article of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement. The idea that opposing war would damage the South Korea-U.S. alliance is too much of a leap to be logical.
Green’s fourth point is that including “the establishment of a peace mechanism” in Article 5 of the declaration without mentioning denuclearization publicly repudiated “President Bush’s insistence that there must be progress on denuclearization before a peace treaty can be signed.”
This is an extremely strange opinion, too. The inclusion of the effort to establish a peace regime along with the previous agreements about denuclearization reflects South Korea’s resolve to tie the six-party talks to the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. It is illogical to criticize the declaration as violating the promise President Roh made with President Bush.
Finally, Green interprets the new economic cooperation projects in the declaration as one-sided gifts from South’s government. However, I suspect Green doesn’t understand the significance of inter-Korean economic cooperation, which is based on the principle of “joint management for joint benefits and sharing abundance and needs with each other,” as stated in the declaration. This means both sides should try to help each other. Therefore, South Korea will provide capital and technology while North Korea provides land and manpower to carry out economic projects, so the South may share its prosperity with the North.
The declaration of the inter-Korean summit meeting cannot be called perfect. The road ahead of us is long. However, Green’s criticism, which would better be called intentional distortion, will not help the prospect of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula or the future of Korea-U.S. cooperation.
*The writer is a professor of political science and international studies at Yonsei University.
by Moon Chung-in