DATE=9/7/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=NORTH-SOUTH KOREA NUMBER=5-46979 BYLINE=STEPHANIE MANN DATELINE=WASHINGTON INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: After the recent Korean summit and family reunions, some observers describe the mood in South Korea as euphoric - with many people hoping for speedy reunification of the divided peninsula. But analysts in the United States say their optimism should be tempered by a large dose of caution, as this week's incident in Frankfurt, Germany, indicates. Correspondent Stephanie Mann reports. TEXT: The June summit in Pyongyang has led to dramatic progress in efforts to improve relations between North and South Korea. Reunions have been held among family members separated since the Korean War 50-years ago, and there are plans for more such reunions. The two sides are talking about reconnecting a cross-border railway, and they have also agreed to hold military talks to try to reduce tensions. In addition, South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung is proposing the two Koreas sign their own peace treaty to formally end the state of war that has existed since the conflict stopped in 1953. So much progress in just a few weeks has prompted a lot of enthusiasm in South Korea and raised hopes about reunification. Professor Samuel Kim, director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University (in New York), says the June summit was a positive historic development. But he cautions against undue optimism. // ACT ONE - KIM // I think it has aroused the expectation of some sort of unification miracle (to) come about, expectation that now with this inter-Korean summit there is no need for the presence of United States troops, and (it) also gives powerful ammunition to the radical leftist forces, and anti-American movement. // END ACT // In recent weeks, anti-American demonstrations have been held in Seoul. Protesters say U-S troops are no longer needed in South Korea because the two Koreas are on the path of reconciliation. But Korea expert Gordon Flake says the protests do not represent a groundswell of opinion in South Korea. // OPT // ACT TWO - FLAKE // We are entering a very precarious period of time when emotions can sometimes outstrip logic, and when it is an extremely sensitive nationalistic period of time. There is going to be pressures on the U-S troop presence. I think policy makers on both sides, and apparently now in both Koreas, recognize the utility and the necessity even of keeping them on board. // END ACT // END OPT // Mr. Flake is executive director of the Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs in Washington. He says the summit was made possible not because of any changes in North Korea, which still maintains strict control over all aspects of society. Instead, Mr. Flake gives all the credit to South Korea and President Kim Dae Jung's so-called "sunshine policy" of opening to the North. // ACT THREE - FLAKE // Basically, it is Kim Dae-Jung who is the first president in South Korean history who is come in confident enough to make compromises, to realize that they can concede and themselves compromise as a way of moving things forward. // END ACT // But Gordon Flake says South Korea's concessions to foster cooperation with the North have not been matched by any substance from Pyongyang. // ACT FOUR - FLAKE // What North Korea has done is to make a number of very symbolic and admittedly important symbolic compromises. But at the same time, the fundamental shifts in their society that would be necessary for any real reconciliation have not begun to take place. // END ACT // Mr. Flake says North Korea must open its society to allow more than what he calls stilted exchanges of family members. He says North Korea must make fundamental reforms to loosen its control over the movement of people, the flow of information and the methods of production for real progress to be made in the North-South dialogue. Samuel Kim says because such reforms would pose a threat to the government in Pyongyang, the North is reluctant to open up to the South. // ACT FIVE - KIM // If you have more and more exchanges - family exchange, trade exchange, diplomatic exchange - then North Korean people become more and more aware of all the lies they have been told. And the system becomes more and more unstable. And I think North Korean leaders are fully aware of this. // END ACT // But Professor Kim says there are things North Korea can do to reciprocate for the economic aid it is getting from the South. For example, he says the North can allow family reunions that are not just showcases, open North Korea to international investment, engage in real military dialogue and redeploy some of its troops away from the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas. Yet until there is real change in North Korea's leadership and basic policies, Professor Kim says there is no real foundation for long-term peace on the Korean peninsula. Gordon Flake says because of the North's history of reneging on promises or just changing its mind, many analysts in the United States expect something to happen to shatter the current mood of optimism. // OPT // ACT SIX- FLAKE // I think those who watch North Korea closely are now kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or another way to put it is we have become very familiar with a process in North Korea of two steps forward, one step back, or sometimes one step forward, two steps back. And we are all waiting for the step back, in anticipation of something going awry here. // END ACT // END OPT // Samuel Kim says past efforts at North-South dialogue - in the 1970's and again in the 1990's - were halted by seemingly small incidents. And he points to the most recent incident in Frankfurt when North Korean diplomats cancelled a trip to New York because they were subjected to a security search by a U-S airline. Professor Kim says that episode likely will affect talks between the United States and North Korea, but he says it should not hurt the dialogue between the North and South. Nevertheless, Mr. Kim says, it may dampen the euphoric atmosphere and return a bit of realism to the mood in South Korea. (SIGNED) NEB/SMN/RAE 07-Sep-2000 12:09 PM EDT (07-Sep-2000 1609 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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