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Roh`s Visit Has Political Relevance

Posted November. 06, 2006 03:00,   


Last Saturday, President Roh Moo-hyun visited the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library and Museum at Yonsei University and had lunch with former president Kim Dae-jung at Kim’s house located in Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.

During the lunch, Kim and Roh had a talk about the North Korean nuclear issue and agreed that, “South Korea must urge North Korea to come into full compliance with the South-North Joint Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and must draw tangible outcomes from the coming six-party talks,” said presidential spokesman Yoon Tae-young.

Kim said, “The North Korean nuclear issue must be dealt with in a peaceful manner through diplomatic channels,” and Roh agreed with Kim.

In regard to current real estate policies, Kim stressed, “The government should be committed to housing for low-income families, but other housing policies must be determined by market principles; if necessary, the government can intervene by imposing a tax.” In response, President Roh said, “The current policies are in line with the orientation that Kim pointed out and we plan to continue it.”

However, Kim and Roh didn’t talk about the recent political reformation efforts initiated by the ruling Uri Party members, presidential spokesman Yoon Tae-young told reporters. Yoon added that this meeting was just planned to celebrate the opening of the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library and Museum at the request of Cheong Wa Dae one week ago.

However, given the current political circumstances, it is very likely that this meeting means more than this. Kim is still strongly supported by people in the Honam region, and actively expressed the position about the recent policies about North Korea, which exerts an effect on the current political debate South Korea`s policy towards North Korea and political reformation efforts in the ruling party.

Kim often says, “The Sunshine Policy was a successful policy. The United States, that exacerbates the North Korean nuclear issue by driving the North into a corner, should take the lead to solve this problem.” In fact, the Roh government stressed the alliance with the United States when North Korea announced its resumption of nuclear testing. However, now, it seems to be returning to its original position by moving advocates of the engagement policy into the front.

Political reformation efforts are directly related to policies toward North Korea because whether to continue the Sunshine Policy of former president Kim Dae-jung or not is a critical matter to maintain the legitimacy of the ruling party. Some ruling party members who came from the Honam region even openly argue that Roh should be excluded in the current debate for political reformation.

About the meeting between Kim and Roh, the opposition Grand National Party (GNP), which has paid a great deal of attention to the ruling party’s effort for political reformation, criticized, “A meeting between Kim and Roh itself means political action.”

Kim Jung-hoon, a member of the GNP and chairman of the information committee, said, “Roh has to care about Kim’s mood because people in the Honam region still show strong support for Kim and Kim maintains influential power that can steer the direction of the current political reform in the ruling party.”