[Viewpoint] Shouldn’t be frogs in a well

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[Viewpoint] Shouldn’t be frogs in a well

Perhaps we are too excited over the good news from the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The world was impressed by the victory of the young Korean girls.

Or maybe, we have become arrogant after proudly getting over the financial crisis while the United States and European countries are still struggling.

The latest news in Korea makes me worry that we have become oblivious as to where Korea stands. The political climate around the Korean Peninsula is especially turbulent.

The Korean Peninsula is surrounded by colossal “mountains” such as the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

And North Korea is a torrential rainstorm that cannot be forecasted. We are standing on the edge of the cliff, and if we doze off for a second, we might fall down, into the bottomless pit.

Moreover, a storm has barreled in near the Korean Peninsula. China and Japan have clashed over small islands in the East China Sea.

And the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are also involved in territorial disputes with China.

China, Japan and the United States are waging a war of exchange rates.

You could almost sense a war cloud gathering as China wants to boost its newly gained influence in the region while the United States is not willing to give up the hegemony over the Pacific.

North Korea’s internal situation is not at all ordinary. The North Korea Workers’ Party Convention was held this week for the first time in 44 years, but the power inheritance to the third generation leader is not going smoothly. Meanwhile, the atmosphere is ripening to resume the six-party talks to resolve the nuclear issue.

In about a month, Seoul will be hosting the G-20 Summit. It will provide the first occasion for Korea to serve as host of a global political event since Dangun founded the country thousands of years ago. It will be an opportunity to elevate the status of the nation.

The timing is especially crucial because the atmosphere surrounding the Korean Peninsula is changing rapidly.

Korea had always entrusted the fate of the country to the shadowy deals made among powerful neighbors, so it is truly thrilling to have Korea as the chair country of the G-20, as well as the host of the summit.

However, the president of Korea is nowhere to be seen on the international stage when he should be busy with diplomatic activities. The UN General Assembly session, which ended last weekend, especially would have been the perfect opportunity for Korea to highlight the upcoming G-20 Summit in Seoul.

The acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not travel to New York to attend the meeting, much less the president.

The Korean president has been caught up in domestic politics.

The selection and appointment of a competent prime minister is as important as diplomacy.

Also, nepotism allegations surrounding the daughter of the former foreign minister should be investigated and clarified because the scandal shocked and discouraged many citizens.

Nevertheless, these issues should be handled strictly within South Korea. The storm that is sweeping up the Korean Peninsula is not going to wait until the investigation over the money deal between the prime minister-designate and his sister is completed.

I am not saying we should not let the past of the prime minister-designate be uncovered or that we should ignore the corruption scandal involving the Foreign Ministry.

We certainly need to investigate allegations and scandals, but we should not be limited by domestic politics and become a frog in a well that does not know the great ocean.

A severe storm with accompanying thunder and lightning has hit the region head-on, and the harsh weather is fast approaching the country. In only a month, leaders of the G-20 countries will fly to Seoul.

We cannot afford to have vacancies for the prime minister and the foreign minister at that point.

To the politicians, the sweet taste of domestic politics might be irresistible temptation.

However, if they are intoxicated by the sweetness and turn their heads away from the national interests, the candies will become sour.

*The writer is the New York correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Jung Kyung-min
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