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Prospects for post-Nobel Korea

Posted October. 15, 2000 21:02,   


What changes will the Nobel Peace Prize awarded President Kim bring to the political climate of the nation? Lavish congratulations came with a variety of projections and recommendations on statecraft.

Many foresee that the implementation of reforms will receive a stronger impetus from the broadened leeway and leverage in the politics of the president. Some members of the opposition fear that President Kim could mount, by virtue of his strengthened stature after receiving the prize, a possibly aggressive political offensive to turn the tide of the political arena, in which the ruling party has been on the defensive.

The presidential staff in Chong Wa Dae believe that the basic tone of the Kim administration will not change much, viewed from a broad perspective. He continues to place priority upon economic development and stabilization of the people's livelihood.

One aide said that winning the prize is a great honor and it is sure to add increased momentum to the improvement of inter-Korean relations. But his achievement in the way of rapprochement with North Korea will not be fully appreciated unless economic uncertainties are cleared, he said, citing the case of former U.S. President George Bush (1988-92) as an example. The president will hardly slow the pace of the pursuit of peace on the Korean Peninsula because his contribution to the cause of peace was one of the main reasons for the Nobel Prize. Thus, he will stick to the foundation of ameliorated inter-Korean relations. This, at the same time, imposes a heavy burden upon him.

He will intensify his efforts at achieving the central agenda of internal administration -- inter-regional integration of the nation and society. The part and parcel of popular expectations upon the president was largely related to these tasks.

Presidential spokesman Park Joon-Young said dialogue with the opposition should take place more often to widen the scope of bipartisan understanding and the points agreed upon during the meeting of the leaders of the government and opposition parties will be put into practice with greater vigor. Much effort will be focused on narrowing regional differences by various measures, including equitable budgetary appropriations, according to Park. It can also be projected that a number of policies will be carried out to strengthen human rights and democracy through the legislation of a human rights law and the expansion of welfare benefits. Kim does not seem to be giving any thought to the demands made by the opposition for his resignation from the presidency of the Millennium Democratic Party.

Choi Young-Mook ymook@donga.com