'We Are Truly Blood allies.'(Kim Young Sam on South Korea's Relations with North Korea and the U.S.)(Interview)

By Strasser, Steven | Newsweek, July 31, 1995 | Go to article overview

'We Are Truly Blood allies.'(Kim Young Sam on South Korea's Relations with North Korea and the U.S.)(Interview)


Strasser, Steven, Newsweek


WITH THE 50TH ANNIVERSARIES OF World War II finally over, the next conflict to be commemorated is the Korean War, which began in 1950. This week South Korean President Kim Young Sam will visit Washington to help dedicate a new Korean War Veterans Memorial. South Korea is an emerging democracy with one of the most vibrant economies in Asia. But many of its people are uneasy about their ties to the United States, which maintains a garrison of 36,500 troops in South Korea. Washington has been negotiating directly with North Korea in an effort to ensure that Pyongyang will not build nuclear weapons. The South Koreans feel left out, and many of them worry that their special relationship with the United States is slipping inexorably away. A few days before leaving for Washington, President Kim granted an exclusive interview to NEWSWEEK's Steven Strasser. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Is the dedication of a Korean War memorial important to you? KIM: We always very much regretted that there was no major memorial to the Korean War built in the United States. The Korean War was almost a forgotten war to many Americans ... This ceremony will remind the South Korean and American people that we are truly blood allies.

Does South Korea now control the destiny of the peninsula? We have come to a very important stage ... It is true that in terms of shortages of food and energy, North Korea is in an extremely serious and difficult situation. Everything is lacking in North Korean society now, and it is difficult to predict what will happen tomorrow ... North Korea should know that the only country that can realistically provide assistance is South Korea.

Is it South Korea's role now to try to prevent that society from exploding? Yes, it is true. We would like to help North Korea economically. We think it is necessary for us to upgrade North Korea's standard of living to a certain extent. That's why we want to have more economic cooperation with North Korea. The problem is that North Korea is not prepared to accept our offer. It wouldn't be too wise of me to say more about North Korea.

Let me ask you a broader question, then. Now that Seoul and Washington both are developing relations with the North, how long should U. …

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