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[Opinion] Dear Mr. Saphire

Posted March. 12, 2003 22:26,   


I read your column from the New York Time the day before yesterday. First I would like to say that I respect your devoted journalism. It is amazing that a 74-year-old person writes a column every three or four days. You have been a model to every hard-working journalist in the world, conveying your views on a wide variety of political issues since 1973. A journalist from this small East Asian country as I am, however, I like to say that I beg you differ on some of your views on Korean Peninsular issues.

What worries me most is that you described South Korea as a “neutral state” instead of an “ally. ” And you suggested this time again that the U.S. pull back its troops from South Korea, arguing “strategic interests of the U.S. is just letting “strong” Koreans to take on the responsibility of defense themselves.” I could understand how much you felt unpleasant about the recent Korean-American relationship as one of leading conservative writers when you wrote, “Korean leaders, who won public support by criticizing U.S. troops in Korea, now suddenly begin to back pro-American demonstrations to have the troops stay, but it is too late.” I doubt, however, that you might be looking at the only one side of the coin and reach a conclusion.

The two countries are indeed allies tied by blood. 528,000 young soldiers, including 54,246 Americans, were killed during the Korean War as they fought for this country. Then we proved that the death of young Americans were not in vain by achieving high economic growth and adopting democracy. For this reason alone, we must hold dear the 50-year-old tie between the two countries. This is why I feel very sorry about your mentioning a `neutral` state. I understand what you tried to say, but I am worried that your remark could further led to misunderstanding by the media in both countries.

I remember you already suggested back in 1978 that the U.S. pull back its troops from Korea. From my understanding, you said so because you wanted cooperation from the Korean government in the so-called Korean Gate, or a Korean lobbying scandal. One of my seniors wrote at that time in the Dong-a Ilbo a column that rebutted your argument. Comparing now and then, I would like to ask you to be more interested in Korean public. That is, to see how many Koreans want a neutral relationship with the U.S. Hope you will not disappoint a majority of Koreans wanting to remain an ally of the U.S.