Seeking a boost in inter-Korean ties
While the Park Geun-hye administration has actively worked domestically to promote its signature creative economy policy and its three-year economic innovation plan, as well as its Eurasia initiative, those projects have become nothing but faint memories. They are abstract and boring, require further explanation, and their feasibility is questionable.
As a result, the Park administration has failed to impress. Despite these plans, the Korean economy’s growth rate has remained at 0 percent for four consecutive quarters since the second quarter of 2014.
Since the scandal sparked by late businessman Sung Wan-jong, the public has closely watched how the president would carry on with state affairs. Some politicians and experts say improved relations with North Korea may be one option for the president. She cannot resolve such pressing economic issues within her term, and Korea cannot afford to take diplomatic initiative with the four powers. Moreover, the United States and China are busy dealing with their own issues, and we cannot expect them to be actively involved in affairs on the Korean Peninsula as much as we would like. It makes more sense to create space for them to actively participate and request their cooperation.
There is only one available way to resolve inter-Korean relations. That is the idea of the Gordian Knot President Park mentioned in September 2014 at the UN Assembly. When no one could untie the knot on the chariot of Gordias, Alexander the Great cut it off with a stroke of his sword. Just like that, President Park and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un must directly address inter-Korean relations.
She must give up on the idea that she can come to the table having been prepped by others. That information may be distorted or only partially delivered depending on the personal interests at stake. President Park and Chairman Kim need to seek a resolution based on their own philosophies - they have already expressed their will for a summit in January.
Recently, the United States and Iran tentatively concluded a nuclear negotiation deal. The breakthrough in stalled negotiations came via a direct phone conversation between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Ali Khamenei, who stepped up to defend their own national interests. It was the first phone conversation between the leaders of the two countries in 34 years.
Joint military drills between the United States and South Korea concluded last week. Politics is all about timing, and now is our chance. As Koreans, we are hoping to see a dramatic moment ahead of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the peninsula from Japan and the division of Korea.
The author is a researcher at the Unification Research Institute, JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 27, Page 30
by KO SOO-SUK