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[Editorial] Will Korea Continue Looking at N.K. Very Differently from the U.S. and Japan?

[Editorial] Will Korea Continue Looking at N.K. Very Differently from the U.S. and Japan?

Posted December. 08, 2005 02:59,   


U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow said on Wednesday, December 7, that his country cannot remove economic sanctions on North Korea, describing North Korea as a "criminal regime" and enumerating its criminal behavior, namely narcotics trafficking and the counterfeiting of foreign currency. It’s rare for a diplomat to employ such a strong expression as a “criminal regime.”

Regarding the “Seoul Summit: Promoting Human Rights in North Korea,” which starts on December 8, Vershbow said, "I hope every stakeholder attends this seminar to search for a strategy to change the lives of North Korean citizens." His comment sounds like an indirect expression of regret towards Korean government which is avoiding the summit to refrain from provoking North Korea.

The Japanese government had informally arranged a special envoy for North Korean human rights issues. Japan was the second nation after the U.S. to name such an envoy. Due to North Korea`s strong resistance, the resumption of the six-party talks has been opaque. What is more concerning is the disappearance of Korea-U.S.-Japan mutual cooperation. Never before in history has the Korean government drifted apart from Washington and Tokyo as it has now.

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young has proposed a “Peace Economy on the Korean Peninsular,” which calls for the establishment of an economic community on the Korean peninsula by 2020. He optimistically said, “In three years, 1,000 corporations will be residing in the Gaesong industrial complex, and human resources will increase to 300,000 or 400,000 in three to four years. Not long after Minister Chung’s words, the U.S. called North Korea a “criminal regime.”

In the past, it would have been hard to imagine that Japan would name a special envoy for human rights in North Korea. Even if there was a necessity, Japan, who must have expected the ripples, should have consulted with the Korean government regarding the timing of such an announcement considering factors like the six-party talks. The fact that it did not means that it is ignoring the Korean government. Side by side with the U.S., Japan is assuming a position which is drawing a line with the Korean government when it comes to policy toward the North Korea.

The “Roh Moo-hyun government attitude,” which only looks at North Korea out of a “one nation” sentiment without any concrete advancement in the relationship between the two Koreas, is worsening the situation. President Roh boasted, “We have outrun our goals on foreign policy.” However, how many citizens would agree with this while watching the growing distance between the U.S. and Korea and between Korea and Japan?