[Letter to the editor]Reform foreign policy
Unlike other government policies, the Korean government’s policy on North Korea is heavily influenced by the political viewpoint of the country’s leader. President Roh Moo-hyun’s incoherent North Korea policy resulted in criticism from both liberals and conservatives.
When water stays stagnant in a pool, it goes bad. It is time for the Sunshine Policy, which has been a core foreign policy of the country, to face judgment. We need to make a strict judgment on what happened in secret during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations under the Sunshine Policy.
The new administration should learn lessons from the failures of former administrations. In particular, there could be serious conflicts among government ministries and departments in making decisions on sensitive inter-Korean issues, including getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and reaching an agreement with the North on the Northern Limit Line. To prevent such conflicts, the administration has to thoroughly define and delineate each department’s role. To do this, each department must be required to have negotiations with each other. That is why the internal leadership needs to be firmly set up in the administration’s foreign policy decision-making body, with the president at the center of authority.
Many experts have forecast that North Korea will go through significant changes within the next five years. That is another reason why the new administration has to focus on foreign security issues besides the country’s economy.
Lee Byeong-cheol, researcher, Institute for Peace and Cooperation