Dangerous viewsThe Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) is the only government body aimed at producing top-caliber diplomats and carrying out research, including designing the long- and mid-term diplomatic strategy of the country. Its functions also include relaying the Korean government’s position on international issues to the rest of the world. Given the significant role of the academy, its head is treated as a vice ministerial-level official and picked from many candidates with experience in the field. But the views of the current head of the academy on the Korea-U.S. alliance pose a serious question about his qualifications.
In a recently published book whose title can be roughly translated as “The Paradox of the So-called Eternal Alliance,” Kim Joon-hyung, chancellor of the KNDA, wrote, “South Korea has been addicted to its alliance with the United States, which is quite similar to gaslighting.” Gaslighting is a psychological term which refers to the act of a perpetrator wielding coercive control over a victim to the extent that the victim cannot make a right judgment. In other words, Kim thinks South Korea has reached a point where it cannot make a rational judgment due to the U.S.
Kim went on to write that the Korea-U.S. alliance tilted to one side from the beginning and that America was closer to a “new occupation force” not the “liberator” of South Korea from Japan’s colonial rule. His views border on a leftist view of history and come close to approval of the North’s strategic goal of dissolving the Korea-U.S. alliance. Kim even wrote that a pullout of U.S. forces from South Korea could help build a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. His perspective clearly shows what the ultimate goal of a so-called peace regime on the peninsula really is.
The Foreign Ministry drew a line after brushing off his writings as an “individual conviction.” As a professor of international politics, Kim can take whatever position he wants. But as a government official handling diplomacy, he must be careful. His position also collides with President Moon Jae-in’s repeated remarks that the alliance is the core of our diplomatic and security policy. Concerns about repercussions of schisms in the alliance after the launch of the Biden administration in the U.S. have started to surface. Kim’s book will surely fuel distrust in the U.S.
Kim studied at the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Yonsei University, whose graduates dominate major posts in the foreign ministry. He must apologize for his controversial remarks in the book. If he can’t do that, he must step down. President Moon must seriously question his qualifications as head of the academy.