Kim showed candor at summit

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Kim showed candor at summit

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South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, center left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, center right, leave the Baekhwawon guest house in Pyongyang after their summit on Oct. 3, 2007. [Joint Press Corps]

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il gave an unusual compliment to former South Korean president Park Chung Hee, father of President Park Geun-hye, on his efforts for the unification of the two Koreas, according to the transcript of a 2007 inter-Korean summit that was declassified Monday.

“I had high expectations when the July 4 Joint Statement was made, as the mood was so vibrant and hopeful for reunification,” Kim told his Southern counterpart former President Roh Moo-hyun at the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in October 2007, according to the transcript. “But that became a useless piece of paper because of the changes in the [South] administrations and the situation down the road.”

The statement, signed in 1972 by Park and North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, was the first inter-Korean discussion on unification.

In it, the two countries called for peaceful unification without interference from foreign countries and a grand national unity beyond the differences of ideology.

Kim pointed out that South Korea was too dependent on foreign powers.

“Why can’t Southern people be more independent?” Kim asked. “You want to curry favor with too many people.”

Roh disagreed but said “there had been no will for self-reliance [in South Korea] before the Kim Dae-jung administration. He took his own independent path starting from the June 15 inter-Korean talks.”

Kim replied, “Didn’t President Park Chung Hee come up with slogans for self-reliance?”

Roh said, “Well, it is true that he attempted to build a nuclear arsenal.”

Kim replied, “That is self-reliance,” effectively approving of Park’s attempt to be independent of the world’s superpowers.

Park’s nuclear program was wound down by successor Chun Doo Hwan under pressure from the Ronald Reagan administration.

Kim confessed that he couldn’t afford inter-Korean business projects and his military would oppose them.

That confession came after Roh proposed to develop the strategically important city of Haeju into something like the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

“In terms of Haeju, I will tell you something as the chairman of the National Defense Commission,” Kim told Roh. “The city is densely populated with military guys ..??. Our military will definitely oppose the idea first, and then they will tell the cabinet to boycott it, probably saying, ‘We haven’t seen much profit from Kaesong yet, and we can’t give them Haeju.’

“I have the military, the swords,” Kim continued, “but I don’t have the economy or the money. You can just understand me in that way.”

On the topic of the Mount Kumgang resort jointly-run with Hyundai Asan, Kim said it didn’t generate as much profit as he expected. “It should have been a government-level investment by the South,” Kim said. “We lost a lot.”

The loss Kim mentioned refers to the tourist business that started to fizzle out after the death of Hyundai Group’s former chairman Chung Ju-yung.

Kim said he wasn’t interested in any more investments from South Korean companies. “Don’t say anything to us about Samsung, Hyundai or Daewoo from now on,” Kim said.

When Roh asked Kim to visit Seoul as he promised in the June 15, 2000 Joint Statement with former president Kim Dae-jung, Kim said, “Why should I go there while the world is so agitated, surprised by our missiles and nuclear [weapons]?”


BY KANG TAE-HWA, LEE YOUNG-JONG [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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