NK Still Sees Seoul's Pursuit of Engagement as `Sunburn Policy'

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), November 14, 1999 | Go to article overview

NK Still Sees Seoul's Pursuit of Engagement as `Sunburn Policy'


Pyongyang still categorizes President Kim Dae-jung relentless pursuit of engagement with the North as the ``sunburn policy,'' which might expose North Koreans to skin cancer and have them take off not only coats but also clothes.

According to Scott Snyder, research fellow of the U.S. Peace Institute, North Koreans still wondered whether the intended effect of Seoul's Sunshine Policy is to get the man to take off his coat or to get him to take off his clothes as well.

``Rather than taking the well-known risks of skin cancer that are associated with over-exposure to sunshine, the North Korea may well choose to sweat it out on their own,'' Snyder said in an English book titled the Kim Dae-jung government and Sunshine Policy, which was published by the U.S. Georgetown University and the Yonsei University.

Kim Ki-jung and Yoon Deok-ryong, professors of the Yonsei University, predicted that political stability and strong leadership are necessary to ensure the success of Seoul's engagement policy toward North Korea.

They viewed that the most serious challenge to the Sunshine Policy may come from weakened political leadership of the Kim Dae-jung government, considering the domestic climate of Korean politics. They noted that the critical point will be the result of the general election in 2000. If the political leadership becomes so weakened that it cannot efficiently coordinate socio-economic and political conflicts, it is highly possible that open conflicts on the Sunshine Policy may be worsened, they warned.

Peter Brookes, advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives, listed three specific concerns U.S. Congressmen have about the Sunshine Policy. The first is whether the new approach in the Sunshine Policy is sustainable beyond the 2002 when President Kim steps down. The second is the issue of reciprocity.

``The Congress is bothered by the general lack of reciprocity in relations with the North-both for the United States and South Korea,'' he said.

The third concern is the issue of separating economics from politics as there is the likelihood that Seoul's transfer of cash might be used to support the North Korea People's Armed Forces' convention and unconventional warfare capabilities, he said.

``However, the critical Congressional view of the Sunshine Policy is not about the grand design, structure or intentions of the policy but about the potential fallouts of the policy as it allows North Korea to threaten the security of the United States, Japan or South Korea,'' he noted.

Despite these specific concerns, the Congress in general, believes that aspects of the Sunshine Policy should be an integral part of a coordinated, integrated and comprehensive policy toward North Korea, supported by the United States, South Korea and Japan, he said.

Lee Chung-min, professor of Yonsei University, predicted, ``If North Korea rejects outright Seoul's initiatives, there there is little doubt that domestic political pressure in South Korea as well as the United States and even Japan will mount in the direction of fundamentally reviewing the basic tenets and principles of the Sunshine Policy.''

Lee said, ``Perhaps the biggest roadblocks to South Korea's Sunshine Policy lies not in Seoul, Washington or even Tokyo as North Korea so often implies, but deep within the corridors of the Kim Jong-il regime. …

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NK Still Sees Seoul's Pursuit of Engagement as `Sunburn Policy'
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