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Kim Dae-jung: Special Envoy to North?

Posted May. 11, 2006 07:08,   


It is highly likely that former President Kim Dae-jung will play a role as a special envoy of President Roh Moo-hyun as the latter wishes to realize an inter-Korean summit with the expectation of Kim’s visit to North Korea.

Yonsei University professor Kim Woo-sang (Department of Political Science and International Studies) analyzed yesterday, “President Roh implicitly said in Mongolia on May 9 that the core issue of former President Kim’s visit to the North should be a summit.”

In addition, at a press conference in Gwangju, Uri Party member Chung Dong-chae said, “North Korean leader Kim Jong Il doesn’t invite a person when he has nothing to give,” and added that Kim Dae-jung will return home after coordinating on when and where to hold a summit.

Prior to this, Kim Dae-jung noted at a special lecture at Yeungnam University in March that he will discuss the summit issue with Kim Jong Il.

Former president Kim Dae-jung is expected to have a substantial discussion on the summit matter with the government before heading for North Korea in June. The recent statement by a high-ranking government official that he will confer with Kim Dae-jung about what to discuss with Kim Jong Il can be interpreted in the same context.

It is also likely that Kim Dae-jung will deliver the details of “unconditional institutional and material support” announced by President Roh to Kim Jong Il.

The government thinks that directly conveying the South’s proposal to Kim Jong Il rather than suggesting investment aid in the Social Overhead Capital (SOC) is the fastest and clearest way to secure the North’s response.

In addition, there is much speculation that the government is seeking to get North Korea to return to the six-party talks, to demarcate the joint fishery zone in the West Sea to east the inter-Korean military tension, and to resolve the issues involving civilian abductees in the North and the South Korean prisoners of war.

With the heightened possibility of Kim Dae-jung practically performing a special envoy role, after his visit to North Korea, some predict that the changes in the North will dominate the South’s policy toward North Korea.

A professor of Sungkyunkwan University Kim Tae-hyo (Department of Political Science and Diplomacy) said, “We have to wait and see whether North Korea will expedite the opening of its market and scrapping the nuclear program after Kim Dae-jung’s visit to the North or if it will just continue to retain its position of waiting until the Bush administration ends.”

Meanwhile, some opposition party members forecast that President Roh’s emphasis on Kim Dae-jung’s role in the inter-Korean issue by linking his visit to the North with a summit might have something to do with the recent visits by Uri Party Chairman Chung Dong-young and Seoul mayoral candidate Kang Kum-sil to Kim Dae-jung.

They say that President Roh intends to give support to the Uri Party, which is lagging behind in the campaign for the May 31 local elections, by enhancing Kim Dae-jung’s status.

Myoung-Gun Lee Min-Hyuk Park gun43@donga.com mhpark@donga.com