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Former U.S. Ambassador, “Changes to North Korean Regime Should Come from Within”

Former U.S. Ambassador, “Changes to North Korean Regime Should Come from Within”

Posted November. 13, 2004 23:56,   


On November 12, the former United States Ambassador to Korea Donald Gregg made a metaphoric comparison of the relations between the Republic of Korea and the U.S. to “an old wooden warship with grimy planks.” The metaphor was made to illustrate that “it is time the two countries recognize the changes that have taken place and make necessary repairs.”

He also argued, “Any changes in the North Korean regime should be made from within, and its neighbors outside should not be putting on pressure.”

The former ambassador delivered a keynote speech at a breakfast meeting held on November 12 that was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) at Lotte Hotel in Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, speaking under the theme of “A New Perspective on the R.O.K.-U.S. relationship through the Eyes of an American.”

“I have heard some of my Korean acquaintances in my age talking seriously about President Roh Moo-hyun’s administration,” he said. “I do not share their opinion. I believe that both the United States and Korea should recognize the changed environment for both countries.”

He continued to say, “Korea and the United States enjoy a friendship that goes back far, but I believe there are a number of things that need amends,” and pointed out, “The United States, in some part, is overlooking the fact that Korea is changing.”

He also said, “The United States traditionally have had great interest in transforming regimes of countries [that pose a threat to security] and attempted to transform regimes in countries like Iraq, Guatemala, Cuba, and others, but failed,” and stressed that any change in the North Korean regime should begin from within.

In this regard, he said, “North Korea’s hackneyed terms like the ‘Great Leader,’ and ‘Dear Leader,’ are less frequently used, and more mural paintings in museums depict old battle scenes with China rather than with the U.S.,” and interpreted that “North Korea is showing evidence of change as to display as much fervor as South Koreans about China’s distortion of Goguryeo history.”

He also said, “The war on Iraq has left us with a painful experience that the war was brought on by inaccurate intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction,” and added, “Both the United States and South Korea should take time to reconsider the intelligence given to them about North Korea.”

Keuk-In Bae bae2150@donga.com