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[Editorial] Definitions of Independence

Posted June. 12, 2006 03:46,   


The North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun carried an article yesterday, saying, “The two Koreas must help each other as one nation, particularly when tension around us is increasing.” This is a hackneyed slogan that North Korea uses whenever it is driven into corner.

But Ahn Kyung Ho, secretariat of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, threatened South Korea last Saturday, saying, “If South Korea’s opposition Grand National Party grabs power, the cooperative initiatives between the two Koreas will founder and the Korean peninsula will be transformed into a bloody battlefield.”

We are sick and tired of North Korea’s ambivalent attitude that calls for cooperation between the two Koreas while threatening the South. How could the North make distinction between a partner who helps each other as one nation, and enemy who confronts them on the battlefield? Even though the North has long used one nation rhetoric as a strategy for the communization of the Korean peninsula, it is worth it to make it clear that the nation the North views is completely different from what the South sees.

While we consider the nation as a group of people with the same culture and kinship, the North views it as an anti-U.S., pro-North group ruled by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. In 1994, North Korea’s National Defense Committee Chairman Kim Jong Il appeared in a talk which was held 100 days after the death of Marshall Kim Il Sung and said, “This nation is Kim Il Sung’s nation.” The next year, the Pyongyang Broadcasting Company used a new term: “Kim Jong Il’s nation.” Therefore, anyone who doesn’t follow them is regarded as enemy who should be confronted against on the battlefield.

The two Koreas also have different understandings on the concept of independence. In regard to “principles of independence” proclaimed by the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration, then-President Kim Dae-jung viewed that “independence doesn’t mean the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Rather, it means that the two Koreas should work together in tackling the Koreas’ problems.” However, North Korea asserted at last year’s new year joint editorial that independence is equivalent to a rejection of external power and the withdrawal of U.S. troops in the Korean peninsula, by suggesting the “big three national cooperation fields,” including, cooperation for national independence, cooperation for anti-war and peace, and cooperation for national reunification and patriotism.

President Roh Moo-hyun flaunted his achievement for national independence last weekend, saying, “We will see Seoul become a city without any foreign troops stationed in it, and we will take wartime operational control back within five years.” The meaning of independence that Roh champions is getting similar to what the North views. We need to have careful thought on whether to let the situation go on like this. A consistent watch is very necessary now.