N. Korea Urged to Be like China: Seoul Leader Seeks Economic Reforms
Constantine, Gus, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
South Korea's Lee Hong-koo, a leading candidate for the ruling party's nomination to succeed Kim Young-sam as president, said yesterday that Seoul would respond favorably if communist North Korea showed some flexibility on economic reform.
"We do not demand that North Korea scuttle its economic system. If they would just become more like the Chinese in initiating market reforms, we are ready to cooperate in building a Korean commonwealth," Mr. Lee said in an interview at the Watergate Hotel.
Even though a Cold War-style confrontation continues on the divided peninsula, South Korea has donated $260 million in humanitarian aid for the famine-plagued North, Mr. Lee noted.
"This is three times as much as all other nations put together," he said. "When it comes to humanitarian help, we recognize that we are all Koreans."
Despite such efforts, "North Korea may no longer be a viable partner in the search for unification" because of the deteriorating political conditions there, Mr. Lee said.
"We need to review our policy. We need to study how to manage the last stages of a dictatorial regime," he said.
Mr. Lee said he is seeking the presidency to unify South Korea, torn apart by corruption scandals and the abuse of military power by past regimes, and to manage the new challenges in North-South relations.
Mr. Lee, 63, as minister of unification in the administration of former President Roh Tae-woo and later in the current government, is the chief architect of South Korea's recent policies on unification with North Korea. …