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[Editorial] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Remorse Not Enough

[Editorial] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Remorse Not Enough

Posted November. 08, 2001 10:29,   


The root cause for the execution of a Korean citizen in China is the sloppy manner in which our foreign service personnel have handled the affairs of Korean citizens abroad. If the officials in charge of the case had considered the urgency of the situation after Mr. Shin was arrested by Chinese authorities and his associates in danger of arrest, the absurd mess over how late they found out about his execution and the loss of documentation would not have happened. This is why we in this newspaper have urged that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade be put under reconstructive surgery.

Although Minister Han Seung-Soo read the statement of apology yesterday and announced plans to reform consular operations, it is our opinion that these were mere ploys to avoid the downpour. Mr. Han said that he bears the responsibility and promises to deal strictly with those involved, but it is reported that until now, the Ministry is considering taking disciplinary action against only 5 or 6 persons. The Ministry is making yet another huge mistake if it thinks that such a weak measure will alleviate the anger of the nation`s people. As plan that the Ministry announced includes things like supplementing personnel that cannot be accomplished by the Ministry alone, the possibilities for its success is not high. The plan also says that additional responsibilities of consul general and chief consul will fall on government officials stationed abroad, but it is questionable whether these individuals will eagerly carry out these duties when they already have so much responsibility.

Such disorderly foreign service personnel cannot be rectified solely by this apology and plan. The Ministry must use whip and bait together, turn the attitude of foreign service workers in a positive direction, and secure a firm commitment to the protection of citizens resident abroad. Disciplinary measures cannot stop at personnel in charge, but must extend to the higher ranks since the situation is so grave. Mr. Han said that he would take on the responsibility so he must take this point into consideration.

Along with these steps, they must immediately establish a system through which citizens abroad can always get access to consulate officials in times of trouble. In the present situation, consulate officials and government workers will put their answering machines on and enjoy their days off even when an emergency arises. It will be difficult to improve operations under these conditions even if they expanded the staff.

Although the first priority is cooperation with the resident nation, it is also urgent that many more consulate officials are needed in places like China where the number of Korean residents are rapidly increasing.