Prior to this book’s publication, an historic summit meeting between President Kim Dae-jung and Chairman Kim Jong I1 took place in Pyongyang in June 2000. Widely acclaimed as a breakthrough, the summit went surprisingly smoothly, and even in the days just following this first-ever event, several concrete outcomes became apparent.
One of the most obvious and very important results of the summit was the gracious and gregarious debut of Kim Jong I1 into the international community. The chairman was not only amicable and courteous in his reception of President Kim, but also made a gracious concession to his guest on the all-important question of unification. Was Kim Jong II leading the North to an amicably reunited Korea in his new status as a quick-witted, self-deprecating statesman? Or did he have his own more menacing agenda? An answer may be found in the words that interpreted the gracious concession.
The concession appeared in the summit communiqué, North-South Joint Declaration, in relation to the unification formula. It involved two similar formula terms in Korean, “yonbangje” and “yonhapje,” which were both originally translated by North and South Korea into the same English word, “confederation.” How these Korean words and their English translation played in the communiqué provides the beginning of understanding the significance of the summit. In order to underscore their importance, we will first introduce how Pyongyang interpreted the concession four days after the summit ended.
According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the daily organ of the North Korean communist party, Rodong Sinmun, pub-