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[Editorial] For the Foreign Ministry, Self Examination and Renovation Should Come First.

[Editorial] For the Foreign Ministry, Self Examination and Renovation Should Come First.

Posted June. 28, 2004 22:32,   


The speech made by the Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon regarding the kidnapping and murder of Kim Sun-il is out of focus. He said this incident should be considered as “an accident that happened in a special circumstance.” He also said, “Though the government is partially at fault, a citizen should be responsible for his own safety when he enters into a dangerous region.”

That is not wrong to say so. It will be hard for 900 or so employees working in 129 Korean embassies to be completely responsible for the safety of 6,000,000 Koreans overseas and 6,000,000 Korean travelers. Nevertheless, the incapability and irresponsibility of the Foreign Ministry, uncovered in the process of coping with this incident, was serious. He, as a minister, should have first apologized and addressed measures to renovate the ministry so that similar incidents will not occur in the future.

What is important is again to improve the service attitude of diplomats and to raise their responsibility about citizens. They hardly deal with civilians and thus, hardly get involved in corruption. On the other side, though, they have a poor service attitude toward civilians. They lack the attitude of servants who serve citizens. Consul duty, that requires direct interaction with overseas Koreans, is considered unimportant by diplomats in general.

A duty has to be about state affairs or trading to be considered important, and a diplomat should be working in Washington to have a promising future. It seems still effective to quote “Cheong Bi Chong,” a slang term meaning “those affiliated with Cheong Wa Dae, ministers, and the General Affairs Bureau have advantages in the cases of position appointment and promotion.” It has been known that one can not even dream of working in North America, not to mention Washington, unless he graduated from certain departments of certain universities. This is a major reason most diplomats give up their dreams in the beginning of their careers.

Under such an environment, who will be willing to sacrifice themselves to protect an overseas Korean’s safety? It is necessary to improve the examination required to become a diplomat employee. However, the task to renovate their moral and cultural behavior is more essential. Are you trying to stay in the old frame when the environment of diplomacy has changed? Minister Ban, who is a professional diplomat of 30 years, should respond to this.