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[Opinion] Mr. Kim Jong-il

Posted July. 22, 2003 21:51,   


George W. Bush has his own way of treating foreign guests. He sets a distinct line between his buddies and so-so friends. He is using this discriminatory style this week again as Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi visits the U.S. While the Italian Prime Minister serving as EU chairman is under fire for corruption at home and for comparing German cabinet members to the Nazi abroad, Bush made no hesitation to invite him to his ranch in Crawford, Texas and spent a night with him treating him well. Bush seems to hardly care about growing criticism on the Italian Prime Minister, since Berlusconi is one of his buddies who backed his attack on Iraq.

George W. Bush also uses different terms to differentiate his buddies and those who are not. At a joint press conference on July 21, he referred to the besieged Italian as `a friend` and `a good friend.` In this regard, it is interesting that Bush called North Korean leader Kim Jong-il `Mr. Kim Jong-il` at the press conference as he answered to a reporter`s question. It is seen as exceptional, indeed, for Bush to call the North Korean leader `Mr….` Before, he had called him just Kim Jong-il.

He had also been calling Kim `a dictator,` `an oppressor` and `an untrustworthy man,` showing his hostility towards Kim. He labeled Kim as `a leader of despotic government that develops weapons of mass destruction while starving his own people to death` during his visit to Seoul in February this year, which came after his controversial remark of `axes of evil` in January. Given such hostility, therefore, the rather common expression `Mr.` seems very exceptional. Bush used the expression as he said, “I believe we could solve the problem with North Korea through diplomatic channels.” This is why some assume that he is softening his hard stance against Kim.

This is not the first time the Bush`s way of referring to foreign guests catch our attention, though. At a join press conference held after summit talks with former President Kim Dae-jung in March 2001, Bush said `this man,` referring to Kim. After the incident, the relationship between the two countries went sour unofficially. Yet, it is too early to expect Bush to call Kim Jong-il `President Kim`. To make him do so, Kim himself pacify Bush by behaving differently. As we see in his treating the Italian Prime Minister, his way of making friends seems quite simple rather than sophisticated.

Bang Hyung-nam, Editorial Writer, hnbhang@donga.com