During a meeting on Tuesday, Liberty Korea Party floor leader Na Kyung-won said she had expressed concerns to U.S. officials with the intent that a summit meeting between the U.S. and North Korea must not take place before the general elections slated for April next year. It is reported that the opposition leader did not make any such request during the floor leaders’ visit to Washington this time, but she did express such concern when she met with former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who visited Seoul back in July. While the general meeting was a venue to report the results of the Washington visit, even some members of her party point out that Na committed an error of politicizing a matter of diplomacy with significant national interests.
Denuclearization is a demand from the entire nation beyond ideologies and generations as Seoul is directly facing a nuclear threat from the North. The opposition Liberty Korea Party also said that it welcomes a U.S.-North Korea summit if it is for resolving the nuclear issues in North Korea, a testimony to the fact that denuclearization is a bipartisan agenda. As a leader of the major opposition party, of course, it is even advisable to provide healthy opinions about denuclearization or other public opinions as reference for Washington’s decision making. However, her call to reschedule the summit for general elections is highly inappropriate as it is intended to gain political advances rather than making progress for successful denuclearization talks.
Back in 2000, the Kim Dae-jung administration announced the date of an inter-Korean summit meeting merely three days before the April 13 general elections, but it had little impact on the election results. The nation was having a security crisis with the Cheonan following the sinking of Cheonan in March 2010, and it was expected to work favorably for the ruling party in carrying the local elections scheduled in three months, but the ruling party was trounced in the end. Diplomacy or security issues appear to have the capacity to change the fate of an election, but history shows that voters are simply above it. As the representative conservative camp as well as the biggest opposition party, the Liberty Korea Party must make a more holistic analysis in weighting the agendas of elections and national interests.
The U.S.-North talks are still at an impasse. The South Korean government is taking on an appeasing position towards Pyongyang to reignite what little fire is left for negotiation, but the North is still giving us the cold shoulder. Now is the time that we brought together our political opinion to prevent the talks deviating from the original path of denuclearization; dismissing the talks to get more votes is an attitude that cannot be accepted.