Go to contents

[Editorial] `Weak Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade` Need Major Surgery

[Editorial] `Weak Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade` Need Major Surgery

Posted November. 05, 2001 10:49,   


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade found out that a Korean citizen was executed at a late and tried to put the blame on China. Now that it has become clear that the ministry was lying, the case cannot be simply closed after censuring a couple of officials in the ministry.

We are of the opinion that the problems with the incompetent ministry must be immediately diagnosed and necessary `surgery` performed in order to prevent a second and third national embarrassment. This year, the ministry made the mistake of disregarding the U.S., our ally, in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty talks and taking Russia`s side. The ministry also failed to understand correctly the situation around the South Kuril fishery negotiations between Japan and Russia and had to beg for a substitution fishery at the last moment. Now, after finding out about Mr. Shin`s death a month later, the Korean Embassy in China told a lie after wavering on their story. We cannot help worrying whether the ministry will be able to handle the complex and intricate foreign relation issues that will emerge in the future. In less than a year, the ministry has made a series of mistakes in the U.S., Russia, Japan, and China which damaged national interest. Is this the four major diplomacy that the current administration has so emphasized?

The execution of Mr. Shin revealed that the large number of foreign service personnel, who consider themselves elites among government officials, do not have the skills and the values that such officials need to have. The embassy personnel in China put little effort in listening to Korean citizens` needs and helping them solve their problems. Instead, many criticize the personnel for being focused on playing golf and traveling, evading their responsibilities at the consulate where little of the large amount of work got done, and setting their goals only on their own careers. It is not news that Korean foreign service workers have a reputation for being much behind their counterparts in advanced industrialized nations among citizens resident abroad.

In spite of this, the high ranking officials in the ministry are trying to put the blame on those below them. The importance of the Shin case notwithstanding, the chief minister was nowhere to be seen and the head of the Overseas Residents and Consular Affairs had to explain the situation at the news conference. The topmost official of the ministry, minister Han Seung-Soo has been staying in New York for planning a meeting at the UN and making frequent `visits` to Seoul. The reason for such disorder in the government ministry at the end of the present administration`s term is the slackening of official discipline and we are of the opinion that this is true for other ministries beside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The administration must learn its lesson from this case and think seriously about the problem of lax official discipline.