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`Game of Death` debate

Posted November. 13, 2012 02:00,   


“On Nov. 28, 2007, Kim Il Chol, North Korea’s minister of the People`s Armed Forces, demanded that (South Korea) ‘give up the Yellow Sea as proposed by (late South Korean) President Roh Moo-hyun, then (Pyongyang) will preserve the Northern Limit Line.’” (Byun Hee-Jae, head of Media Watch). “I was unaware of that situation. I`d never heard of it.” (Jin Joong-gwon, professor of Dongyang University). Byun is considered the leading debater for the conservative camp in South Korea and Jin is deemed the best for liberal forces. Their “Game of Death” debate held Sunday afternoon that was webcast by Gom TV caused frequent crashes over the course of their arguments. The moderator said, “In the 2012 presidential election, which the people’s right to know has been neglected, media traffic caused by the public, who long for debates (between candidates), is surging, causing Internet servers to crash.”

The debate was named after the movie of martial arts icon Bruce Lee. In the movie, Lee fights several martial art masters on each floor of a pagoda, and each victory allows him to climb the structure. On the first debate topic of the inter-Korean sea border, Byun quoted comments made by the Roh administration in its meetings with Pyongyang and facts including a Yellow Sea map. “President Roh lied to the public that he kept the Northern Limit Line after handing over the Yellow Sea to North Korea,” said Byun. Jin, who is famous for his intelligence and extemporaneousness, was numbed and mumbled. Jin admitted to losing the first round in a Twitter post, saying, “I was defeated on the basis of facts.”

A truly serious problem, however, is that no debates have been held by presidential candidates and representatives of election camps over issues to have significant impact on national security and jobs. Ruling Saenuri Party candidate Park Geun-hye pledged to put into practice the spirit of past agreements between the two Koreas through fine-tuning. Her main opposition rival Moon Jae-in wants to pursue "a peace and cooperation zone" in the Yellow Sea and joint fishing waters under the condition of maintaining the Northern Limit Line. Independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo has promised to designate a joint fishing area as long as the sea border is honored. The people can hardly figure out in what aspect and how their pledges are different from each other. They felt so stuffy and unclear that the debaters went as far as to hold a debate with such a grave title as “Game of Death” in lieu of the presidential candidates.

“Everyone who attempted to nullify the Northern Limit Line under the Roh administration remain in Moon Jae-in’s presidential camp.” “The Saenuri Party is opposed to the disclosure of minutes of inter-Korean summit talks because it fears that it would deal a blow to Moon and result in the opposition choosing Ahn as its unified candidate.” “Saenuri is losing because it uses shortsighted tactics.” In the face of Byun’s tough offensives, Jin countered toward the end of their debate by saying, “Even if former President Roh mentioned giving up the Northern Limit Line, it was merely rhetoric and you shouldn`t exaggerate.” Yet Roh suggesting that he would make concessions on territorial land or waters to North Korea would not constitute mere rhetoric.

Editorial Writer Kim Sun-deok (yuri@donga.com)