[LETTERS to the editor]Mending the Korea-China relationship

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[LETTERS to the editor]Mending the Korea-China relationship


Controversy over the anti-Korea sentiment in China that became visible during the Beijing Olympics last month is now the talk of the town.

Such anti-sentiment must have been as much of a shock to many Korean people as it was to this writer who has lived in China since 1991 - a year before relations between the two countries were normalized - and was surprised to see what has never been witnessed before.

Korea and China are special partners to each other in many ways. First, they hardly see each other as “foreigners” since they are neighboring countries with kindred cultures and much similarity in the people’s way of thinking and living.

People from both countries have already been deeply involved in each other’s lives. Some 12,000 Koreans per day on average visited China last year while 4,100 Chinese traveled to Korea during the same period.

Koreans currently residing in China total upwards of 800,000 and the Chinese population in Korea now reaches 560,000. Hence, discord may be rather natural considering that such a large number of people from both sides are living together.

That does not mean that nothing is wrong.

There is for sure a problem to be addressed, like the lack of respect for each other as some experts point out.

China has risen to a world power rivaling the United States over recent years, to which, however, China feels Korea deliberately turns a blind eye. Some Chinese say that must be why some Koreans do whatever they want in China - being rude in speech and behavior, inconceivable in other countries.

Chinese think highly of Koreans as the people who don’t yield to hardships and aren’t afraid of failure. However, such national trait can be harmful if it is abused.

Some Koreans’ reckless speech and conduct that seemingly look down on China under an illusion that Korea is superior to China should not be allowed in any case.

Though it is questionable to what extent the anti-Korean sentiment has spread in China, it is certain that it is not good for anybody that the two countries become estranged for any reason.

What is needed now to mend the current sulky relations between China and Korea is vigorous exchange and cooperation between leaders of the two countries.

A lesson that can be learned from the past is that aggravating relations between China and Japan improved after the leaders of the two nations met and communicated with each other.

Considering that the Internet was the main channel through which the anti-Korean sentiment was created and spread in China, maturity among Internet users in both countries is also called for.

In addition, there is one more important thing that is required of Korean people: Be a little more considerate of Chinese people living in Korea. Embracing about 74,000 Chinese students studying in Korea and Korean-Chinese in need will convert them into friendly supporters of Korea.

Kim Dong-jin, adviser to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China

e-mail to eopinion@joongang.co.kr or via fax to 82-2-751-9219
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