Thoughts of the Times; Sunshine Policy and Inter-Korea Summit Conference

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), April 13, 2000 | Go to article overview

Thoughts of the Times; Sunshine Policy and Inter-Korea Summit Conference


The dissemination of the sunshine policy or engagement with North Korea suggestively refers to a commitment to exercise inter-Korean leadership and stresses preventive diplomacy through such means as support for economic assistance, based on humanitarian and disaster relief etc., attempting to build mutual confidence between South and North Korea and defuse conflicts before they become crises.

The concept of the sunshine policy is not new, but it seemingly attempts to be a new treatment of old idioms.

During Kim Young-sam's presidency, his contact with North Korea for feeding starving people in the North was already glorified as humanistic in the case of one hundred and fifty thousand tons rice tribute to North Korean regime though no one kept track of its actual use in the North in order to be able to ascertain the result, and the North Korean agent Yi In-mo was unconditionally repatriated back to the North, while the South Korean regime was then and is still indifferent to many missing ROK soldiers who were held captive in the North.

Under the sunshine policy, Hyundai trucks that took one thousand head of cattle from the South to the North might take ammunition to the front against South Korea's draftee army instead. Is this no cause for concern at all? Again, the $8.5 million Hyundai is currently paying monthly for the Mt. Kumgang hiking fees to the North might be used for sophisticated weaponry of mass destruction. North Korea's recent unilateral declaration of the revision of North Limit Line is nothing but to demonstrate its readiness to use force. In this, it resembles the former Soviet Union, which believed that the best way of gaining the cooperation of others was to exhibit a willingness to employ overwhelming force.

President Kim is willing to allow the giant economic force of government to be used for North Korea as expressed in his recent Berlin Declaration, urging inter-Korea dialogue: Suggestively his policy ``Enlargement'' more than``Engagement,'' surfacing the South Korean regime's anticipated commitment to a Social Overhead Capital (SOC) program in the North; bringing an end to the Cold War structure on the Korean peninsula; elimination of weapons of mass destruction; conversion of North Korea's controlled economy to a market economy; conversion of the armistice to a peace system realizing a de facto unification of two Koreas where citizens would travel freely. No one could suggest any better what government should do. South and North Korea agreed to hold the summit conference in Pyongyang between June l2th and l4th. For better or worse, the era of inter-Korea summit diplomacy is evidently underway. It is dramatic, promising, and above all, newsworthy, but the gravest problem with it seems that it tends to raise hopes falsely or prematurely. …

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