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Diplomatic boost expected with Nobel Prize

Posted October. 16, 2000 15:13,   


Upon receiving reports that President Kim Dae-Jung had won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday afternoon, officials at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry gave rousing cheers. Senior officials above the level of bureau directors assembled at the office of Vice Minister Ban Ki-Moon and held an instant confabulation.

What impact will the prize give on the Korean diplomacy?

Saying that Seoul has played a leading role in international diplomacy since the Cold War receded, the officials predicted that Kim's Nobel prize is sure to enhance Korea's international reputation and contribute to strengthening its diplomatic muscle. They asserted that since the Cold War era ended, bilateral diplomacy has been on the decline, while multilateral diplomacy has been invigorating through international conferences or international organizations.

Accordingly, the reputation and capability of the supreme leaders of the governments are closely associated with their countries' diplomatic might, they asserted.

Stressing that since the end of the East-West ideological row, universal values such as democracy and human rights are weighed, Choi Young-Jin, director general of the ministry's diplomatic policy office, said that President Kim's winning the prize will be able to cut the figure as the symbol of this universal value.

A veteran diplomat, who accompanied Kim on his overseas diplomatic tours several times, recounted an episode with the president while he was participating in the APEC summit in September last year and asserted that the president's remarks in the future will draw more attention in the international community.

On the other hand, however, some people expressed concern that his human rights diplomacy ran counter to practical diplomacy and that this phenomenon might be deepened.

For instance, the ministry officials expressed apprehension that the government's refusal of granting visa to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for his planned visit to Seoul would raise a diplomatic row in relation with China.

Boo Hyung-Kwon bookum90@donga.com