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Foreign Media Reaction
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|20 October 2000|
Korea: 'Sunshine' Policy Thaws Five Decade Freeze In Relations
South Korean, Japanese and European editorialists viewed Secretary of State Albright's scheduled October 23 visit to North Korea--expected to set the stage for a trip by President Clinton to Pyongyang--as a vindication of the wisdom of South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy. A South Korean writer echoed the sentiments of many when he asserted that this policy, which aims at thawing North/South Korean relations and achieving a durable peace on the peninsula, had "paid off handsomely." The reciprocal high-level U.S./North Korea talks, following as they do upon the historic Kim-Kim meetings in June, engendered heady hopes among some observers in Seoul. Independent Hankyoreh Shinmun declared: "Once Clinton's visit becomes a reality, almost anything...would be possible." More often, however, commentators dismissed hopes of rapidly defusing this Cold War powderkeg. Writers in South Korea and Japan worried that their own security concerns might be swept aside if Washington and Pyongyang rushed toward better ties. Numerous non-communist papers identified North Korean missiles as a major obstacle to progress and noted that "while reunification no longer seems as absurd as it did a few years ago...much needs to change in Pyongyang before we can speak of a halfway democratic state." Chinese and Pro-PRC papers in Hong Kong and Macau asserted that U.S. didn't really want rapid normalization with Pyongyang because "reconciliation and reunification on the Korean Peninsula will damage America's strategic interests."
SUN SHINES ON SEOUL'S KIM: Editorials in Europe, Asia and Canada lauded Kim Dae-jung, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, citing both his record as a democratic head of state and the progress of his initially contrarian "Sunshine" policy of engagement with North Korea. With the U.S. leadership now engaged with the North, as evidenced by Secretary Albright's upcoming visit, an Australian paper stated that Kim "just might have got all the strategic ducks in a row."
DON'T FORGET ABOUT US!: Many South Korean writers were hopeful that U.S./North Korea normalization might provide the momentum necessary to transform the decades-old cease-fire into a formal peace treaty. They were adamant, however, that South Korea not be "pushed aside" and that "the U.S. should return to the Seoul government all authority required to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea." Similarly, Japanese commentary worried that Japan might "miss the bus" if the U.S. rushes forward with a settlement that ignores unresolved issues such as "the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents."
WHOSE SPANNER IN THE WORKS?: Numerous observers saw daunting obstacles to adding the Korean Peninsula to the list of former Cold War flashpoints. Those in the West focused on the difficulty of dealing with a regime "which remains totalitarian and an exporter of missile technology." The Chinese media saw Washington's ambitions as the sticking point. As one paper noted: "After 50 years, U.S. troops create an obstacle to the peaceful reunification of Korea.
EDITOR: Stephen Thibeault
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 51 reports from 15 countries, October 11 - 20. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
SOUTH KOREA: "After The Nobel Prize"
Hong Soon-il wrote in the independent, English-language Korea Times (10/18): "Upon assuming office in February 1998, President Kim instituted a 'sunshine' policy and made strenuous and consistent efforts to attain one of his longstanding goals, namely a thaw in North-South relations and consequently a durable peace on the peninsula. Although he initially seemed to be swimming against a tide of skepticism among the Korean people and allied countries, Kim's effort has paid off handsomely.... Last week, Kim Jong-il sent his top military aide, Vice Marshal Cho Myong-nok, to Washington to work out a joint communique calling for the end of the protracted hostility between the two countries. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is due to make a trip to Pyongyang later this month, which will probably be followed by a visit by President Clinton later this year.... One thing is clear. The president, who is in the second half of his term in office, is now in a better position to overcome a possible lame-duck syndrome, and tackle both domestic and foreign issues with greater vigor and confidence. We can count on his insight, commitment and resourcefulness which, as illustrated in his initiative for improving inter-Korean relations, have been eloquently endorsed by the prize."
Kim Yong-bae asserted in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (10/17): "Korea certainly needs a peace treaty to replace the current cease-fire on the peninsula. Before negotiations to bring about the treaty begin, however, certain things about U.S. forces in Korea, including their new status, will have to be straightened out.... More important is the role South Korea should play. It ought to play a key role in establishing a peace system on the Korean Peninsula. Under no circumstances should it be pushed aside from that process. To prevent that, the United States should return to the Seoul government all authority required to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea."
"U.S.-North Korea Rapprochement"
Former ROK Unification Minister Shon Jae-shik observed in conservative Segye Ilbo (10/17): "Better U.S.-North Korea relations will no doubt expedite the process of putting an end to the cold war regime still very much alive in Korea. The rapprochement will also make a great contribution to peace throughout Asia."
"President Clinton's Game Plan"
Korea University Professor Han Sung-joo wrote in conservative Chosun Ilbo (10/16): "President Clinton has decided to visit North Korea, despite many political burdens at home.... Why does he want to go to a nation that has been labeled a rogue nation until now? He must have figured that his visit would dramatically help put aside the two nations' former antagonism and build new kinds of ties, and that all this would be instrumental in increasing U.S. influence in the region.... He also must have thought his visit would be able to root out in advance any possibility of the United States being drawn into a war in Korea.... These developments should not be harmful to South Korea."
"Toward A New System"
The conservative Chosun Ilbo opined (10/14): "Although some fear the prospect of a triangle
relationship among the United States and the two Koreas on the Korean Peninsula, we, nevertheless, welcome the prospect of normalization relations between the United States and North Korea. With Secretary Albright heading for Pyongyang soon and a strong possibility that President Clinton would also visit, it is clear that the relationship between the two nations is clearly on a new path, and is headed in the right direction. And this is a positive development for all of us, despite the fact that many difficult issues still exist, including missiles and removing the North from the U.S. list of terrorism-supporting nations.... One thing for the North to remember is that it cannot discuss the establishment of peace only with the United States, and that both Koreas should play a key role in that discussion.... These changes give us all the more reason to strengthen our solidarity with the United States."
"Peace In Korea And Clinton's North Korea Visit"
Independent Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (10/14): "Before us lies a truly historic moment and a real opportunity to prevent war and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula. Truly, this kind of change was unthinkable until now.... The recently announced U.S.-North Korea joint communique is proof of how quickly the current is changing, with respect to the Korean Peninsula and the world order.... The prospect of President Clinton's visit to North Korea is further proof of how profoundly the relationship between the United States and North Korea will change. Once his visit becomes a reality, almost anything, including abolishing the cold war regime currently in place in Korea, would be possible.... All this tells us that North Korea has finally chosen a practical line of diplomacy, leaving behind its long-time rigid positions. Its willingness to discuss the issue of a peace treaty at the Four-Party Talks is further proof of that, and that in itself is an encouraging sign for us because it shows the North's intention to work with us, not just with the United States.... Truly, a golden chance is before us, an opportunity for peace not only for Korea but for all of Asia. We should take advantage of this chance and finally find a way to dispense with all possibility of war on this peninsula."
"Clinton's Visit To North Korea And The End Of The Cold War"
Independent Dong-A Ilbo held (10/13): "The U.S.-North Korea joint communique marks a turning point in the North's relations with the United States, and it will usher in a dramatic change in the Korean Peninsula. The new decision between the United States and North Korea to end their hostility signifies that the cold war regime has finally come to an end.... The prospect of Bill Clinton's visit to Pyongyang is testimony to the fact that U.S.-North Korea relations are being improved at a tremendous speed. Also significant is the new focus on transforming the current cease-fire regime into a peace system.... The fact that the North has agreed to discuss the issue at the Four-Party Talks is particularly fortunate, a prospect that will help implement the Korea summit communique held in June.... When all is said, establishing a peace treaty remains the most crucial issue.... Progress in the U.S.-North Korea relationship will help strengthen inter-Korean ties, and will also bring about a significant change in the security dynamics in all of Asia. At this point, an emphasis on maintaining strong Washington-Seoul solidarity seems appropriate."
"A Whole New History"
Conservative Segye Ilbo argued (10/13): "The just released U.S.-North Korea joint communique is full of indications that a whole new future will now unfold. Not only does it reaffirm the North's missile moratorium, it also includes the prospect of President Clinton's visit to Pyongyang.... In other words, the two nations have finally entered the stage of normalization.... The communique seems a natural outcome resulting from what had been achieved during the Korea summit in June. It also implies that the Seoul government's push for better relations with the North is now being recognized internationally."
"The U.S.-North Korea Talks And Our Homework"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo asserted (10/13): "The United States and North Korea are now at a new point, putting aside their long-time hostility and starting a new relationship. Though definitely a positive development not only for Korea but for all of Asia, we find ourselves not entirely comfortable with the just-released U.S.-North Korea joint communique, especially the part about the United States and North Korea making bilateral efforts to transform the current cease-fire system into a peace regime.... It looks as if the North is still trying to deal only with the United States, brushing us aside, to discuss the reduction of military tensions. We also doubt that a better Washington-Pyongyang relationship will automatically guarantee better inter-Korean ties.... In a way, Pyongyang's brinkmanship has scored a big victory, with its missiles having made the prospect of signing of a peace treaty with the United States possible. Given all this transformation under way, the status of U.S. forces in Korea will have to be changed."
"Toward A Peace Treaty"
Myongji University Professor Kim Hak-jun wrote in independent Dong-A Ilbo (10/13): "The North-South Korea summit communique, issued in June, made no mention of transforming the current cease-fire system into a peace regime. That very issue, however, is the centerpiece of the joint communique announced by the United States and North Korea the other day. What does this discrepancy indicate? It indicates that the North will seek to resolve the issue through the United States, not us.... While this aspect leaves us a bit uncomfortable, the communique, nevertheless, offers many positive signs indicating that the relationship between the two countries is finally shifting from confrontation to a new kind of cooperation. Thanks to that, Korea is on a new wave, moving toward a peace system."
"U.S.-North Korea Normalization"
The moderate Hankook Ilbo maintained (10/11): "The scene of Cho Myong-nok in a meeting with President Clinton, especially with the North Korean envoy wearing a military uniform, is proof of one thing: the history of the cold war, which has so far gripped the Korean Peninsula, is finally being rewritten. And clearly, Cho's military attire carried a message that the North is now ready to discuss the easing of military tensions with the United States. Not only that, wearing his uniform was also a sign that Cho has the full support of the North's military establishment in coming to the United States to seek a rapprochement. For its part, the United States met Cho with the kind of protocol required for a head of state, making it clear that it wants better relations with Pyongyang.... So far, the United States and North Korea have agreed to get rid of the obstacles standing in the way of normalization. We welcome the development. Easing hostility between the United States and North Korea will be instrumental in reducing the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula. Korea then will have a chance for coexistence and peace."
"Moving Toward A New Peace"
North Korea specialist Yoo Young-koo observed in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (10/11): "Cho's U.S. visit and the remarks he made in Washington in the last couple of days mean one thing: A fundamental change in U.S.-North Korea relations is truly before us. So, the United States and North Korea are finally moving toward the 'path of negotiation' in order to reach peace, following on the 'Perry Process.' Clearly, the Korean Peninsula is surfing on a new wave."
"North Korea Presents A 'Missile Card'"
Washington correspondent Kim Jin wrote in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (10/11): "Upon his
arrival, North Korean Envoy Cho Myong-nok spoke about a peace process being built on the Korean Peninsula. Clearly, the North is pursuing dialogue both with South Korea and the United States. There is still the question, however, of how quickly the outstanding issues between Washington and Pyongyang will truly be resolved. Obviously, beyond a U.S. visit by a North Korean envoy, the United States is concerned about the concrete actions the North will take. While the United States has recognized the historic significance of the North-South Korean summit held in June, it nevertheless holds the view that one or two such meetings alone will not resolve all issues."
"Toward Normalization With The U.S."
Washington correspondent Kang Hyo-sun observed in conservative Chosun Ilbo (10/11): "The North has finally crossed the symbolic bridge toward its 'opening-up' to the world, and that is the biggest message from Cho's U.S. visit. Accordingly, the number-three man in the North stated upon his arrival in the United States that the North wishes to bring an 'epochal change' to U.S.-North Korea relations.... Despite the historic significance of the visit, exchanging liaison offices is about the only tangible agreement reached so far, an indication of where the two nations' bilateral relationship stands for the moment. There are still many obstacles to be resolved before the two countries normalize their relations."
NORTH KOREA: "U.S. Secretary Of State To Visit DPRK"
Pyongyang's official KCNA waited until noon 10/20 to release this terse news item: "U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will soon visit the DPRK to directly convey President William Clinton's views on the improvement of the DPRK-U.S. relations to Chairman Kim Jong-il of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK and prepare for a visit by the president of the United States."
"KCNA On Incomprehensible Behavior Of South Korea"
Pyongyang's official KCNA (10/19) remained silent on the upcoming visit by Secretary of State Albright, referring only obliquely to improving U.S.-North Korea relations in the midst of this prickly diatribe: "We can never tolerate the anti-North diatribe that South Korean authorities have renewed.... Such unexpected mud-slinging made against the backdrop of improving inter-Korean relations cannot be construed other than as a criminal attempt to brand the North a 'sponsor of terrorism' and, under this pretext, put a brake on the process of improving DPRK-U.S. relations and bring inter-Korean relations back to the time of confrontation. Facts prove that the South Korean authorities have neither any intention to implement the North-South joint declaration, nor any wish to see improved DPRK-U.S. relations. If they sincerely desire national reconciliation and the reunification of the country, they should not resort to an anti-North diatribe, in contravention of the joint declaration, but do things helpful to reconciliation and unity."
"Special Envoy Of Kim Jong-il Returns Home"
Pyongyang's official KCNA carried a spare descriptive statement on the highest level U.S.-DPRK meetings ever held (10/13): "Vice Marshal Cho Myong-rok, first vice-chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and director of the general political department of the Korean People's Army, today returned home after visiting the United States as a special envoy of the great leader Kim Jong-il, chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and Supreme Commander of the KPA."
"Special Envoy Of Kim Jong-il Meets Albright And Cohen"
Pyongyang's official KCNA released an official text of the joint U.S.-North commonique on the
Washington talks, along with this terse report (10/12): "Vice Marshal Cho Myong-rok, first vice-chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and director of the general political department of the Korean People's Army, on a visit to the United States as a special envoy of the great leader Kim Jong-il, chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and Supreme Commander of the KPA, had talks with Albright, U.S. secretary of state, on October 10 and 11. At the talks, both sides exchanged comprehensive views on the issues of mutual concern. The special envoy met and had a talk with U.S. Defense Secretary Cohen on Wednesday. The talks discussed matters related to peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. The talks proceeded in a sincere, constructive and frank atmosphere."
JAPAN: "U.S. Gives Thoughtful Consideration To Japan And South Korea"
Liberal Asahi's Washington correspondent Junji Tateno observed (10/20): "Secretary of State Albright plans to visit Pyongyang October 23-24, only 10 days after DPRK Vice Marshal Cho's visit to the United States. The accelerating U.S.-DPRK 'normalization tempo,' as seen by the secretary's scheduled visit, appears to have drawn cautious reactions from Japan and South Korea, which are coordinating policies toward the North. Some of these allies call the U. S. diplomatic offensive a little too hasty. Secretary Albright's meeting with Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers in Seoul, set for October 25 on her return from Pyongyang, apparently reflects a U.S. move to give thoughtful consideration to, and to ease, the allies' concerns. It is true, however, that the United States, which maintains that improved ties with the DPRK will also serve its own national interests, would not like to see the two allies standing in the way of the ongoing U.S. diplomatic offensive. It cannot be denied that with the U.S. presidential election less than three weeks away, the Clinton administration is eager to lay the groundwork for normalizing relations with the DPRK."
"Japan Falls Behind U.S., South Korea In Improving Ties With DPRK"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai's senior writer Yasuhiro Tase observed (10/16): "It is certain that Chinese President Jiang will visit Pyongyang by the year's end, while President Clinton will visit the North Korean capital before his term of office ends next January. Japan will not be able to promote ties with the DPRK as speedily as China and the United States. While voices are being raised at home that Japan should not hasten to establish better ties with the North, Prime Minister Mori appears to be eager to improve relations quickly to bolster his political foundation. The United States and South Korea finally have been able to 'open the doors' of North Korea because of their consistent diplomatic efforts. But there is no consistency in Japan's diplomacy toward the DPRK. Japan's planned offer of 500,000 tons of rice to the North and its current negotiating stance toward the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents are indeed incomprehensible. While Japan continues to believe conceitedly that it is indispensable for U.S. and South Korean efforts to promote ties with the North, Japan actually is more likely to 'miss the bus.'"
"U.S., DPRK Should Discuss Regional Peace"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (10/13): "With his term of office running out in a few months, President Clinton might have decided to quickly improve ties with the DPRK. Whatever his political and diplomatic motives, the joint U.S.-DPRK communique showed that the trend on the Korean Peninsula is clearly shifting from antagonism to reconciliation. Hopefully, the communique will become instrumental in restoring a lasting peace to the peninsula. It will become increasingly necessary for both sides to make concrete efforts to ease the military tension there.... First and foremost, North Korea will have to suspend the deployment and export of ballistic missiles. In a joint statement (issued before Vice Marshal Cho's U.S. visit) and again in the joint communique, the North joined the United States in opposing international terrorism. If the DPRK is indeed opposed to terrorism, it must extradite Japanese radicals, who hijacked a JAL plane in 1970, to Japan. The North must also
cooperate with Japan in resolving the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents. Japan should not have a 'miss-the-bus' mentality in dealing with the North."
"U.S.-DPRK Rapprochement To Promote Relaxation Of Tensions"
An editorial in the business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (10/13): "It is extremely significant that the United States and the DPRK jointly took a giant step toward establishing a new relationship free from past antagonism.... But it is still not fully clear whether North Korea will be willing to submit itself to the existing framework of global order.... We must keep a close watch on whether or how the North will comply with moves toward the relaxation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere in Northeast Asia. Improvement of U.S.-DPRK relations would have a major impact on Japan-DPRK normalization talks. Even if the United States and South Korea ask Japan to normalize relations with the North, the Japanese government should not 'hasten' to improve relations. Japan should adhere to a satisfactory settlement of sensitive problems, including the alleged abduction issue, while deepening cooperation with the United States and South Korea."
"An End Must be Brought To 'Cold War' On Korean Peninsula"
The liberal Asahi editorialized (10/13): "Secretary of State Albright's visit to Pyongyang in the near future will set the stage for the United States to create a new environment for promoting normalization talks. But there are arguments in Japan that the Japanese government should not hasten to improve ties with the North Koreans, who are eager to obtain Japan's economic assistance. Although there are still issues pending between Japan and the DPRK, Japan should not forget its colonization of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II. Tokyo has yet to settle the colonization/compensation issue with Pyongyang."
"U.S. Rolls Out Red Carpet For Senior DPRK Envoy"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai's Washington correspondent Ijuin noted (10/11): "The U.S. government literally rolled out the red carpet for the number three North Korean official in the hope that the U.S. administration will be able to boost a rising mood of reconciliation and upgrade the current working-level dialogue to a higher governmental level. It is not clear, however, whether or how much the United States and North Korea will be able to narrow down their differences over such sensitive subjects as North Korea's nuclear and missile development and the exclusion of the North from the U.S. list of states sponsoring international terrorism."
"DPRK Eager To Normalize Relations With U.S."
Liberal Asahi's Washington correspondent Kosuge opined (10/11): "Since former U.S. policy coordinator Perry's visit to the DPRK in May 1999, the talk of the international community centered around when the North would send a senior envoy to Washington to return Perry's visit, and who the envoy would be. About a month before the U.S. presidential election, DPRK leader Kim Jong-il sent Vice Marshall Cho, one of his closest aides, to Washington. It is quite clear that the North Korean leader is taking advantage of this timing to open the way for normalizing relations with the United States. It is certain that senior U.S. officials, including President Clinton, who met with Cho on Tuesday, will react positively to Kim Jong-il's diplomatic offensive."
"DPRK Gives Priority To Economic Reconstruction"
Liberal Mainichi's Washington correspondent Osawa observed (10/11): "The DPRK gives top priority to reconstructing its battered economy. But Pyongyang is worried that its excessive dependence on other nations for economic assistance could 'weaken' the stability of the Kim Jong-il leadership that continues to shut out the flow of information from the outside world. In
fact, the North is eager to avoid excessive economic dependence on the United States, Japan and South Korea. The North Koreans, therefore, think it necessary to seek loans from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international lending organizations in order to reconstruct their economy and keep their leadership stable."
CHINA: "An Important Step In The U.S.-D.P.R.K Relationship"
Yan Feng wrote in the Xinhua Daily Telegraph (10/14): "Despite many remaining obstacles, the joint statement issued by DPRK and the United States is an important step toward the normalization of the two countries' relationship."
"How Can North Korea And The U.S. Meet Face-To-Face?"
Guang Jianbin wrote in official Chinese Youth Party China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao, 10/13): "Due to the deep feud between North Korea and the United States, normalization of the bilateral relationship cannot be realized overnight.... In fact, the United States is reluctant to see a rapid and brisk pace of the reunification between the two Koreas. It is certain that reconciliation and reunification on the Korean Peninsula will damage America's strategic interests in Asia. That the two Koreas maintain the status quo of 'no war and no reunification,' and keep a neither too-close nor too-distant relationship is in the best interests of America in the Northeast Asia."
"DPRK-U.S. Contacts: An Ice-Breaking Move"
Ren Yujun commented in official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 10/11): "Even though the visit by DPRK envoy Cho Myong-rok to Washington cannot achieve any substantive results, the visit in itself is an ice-breaking move. An improved relationship with the United States can add more bargaining chips to DPRK's hand in dealing with South Korea and Japan. On the other hand, the United States cannot achieve its interests in Northeast Asia without the DPRK's participation."
HONG KONG: "Helping North Korea To Resist U.S. Is A Lesson"
The Pro-PRC Hong Kong Commercial Daily ran this editorial (10/11): "China highly praises the relaxation of the situation on the Korean peninsula. After fifty years, the United States still has its troops stationed on the peninsula, creating an obstacle to the peaceful reunification of Korea. In the meantime, U.S. anti-China forces are also making use of Korean reunification to develop a new circle to contain China. This attempt is resolutely opposed by China, and it will never succeed. Providing help to resist the United States in the Korean War was the first head-to-head confrontation between the new China and the United States. Although the equipment of the Chinese armies was inferior, they still fought bravely for the sake of protecting their country. And they finally succeeded in forcing the well-equipped United States to come to the negotiating table. The United States admitted that they 'had fought the wrong war at the wrong time against the wrong enemy.' Now, the Taiwan issue is a sensitive issue between China and the United States. Some powers in the United States claim that they have to use military force to 'protect Taiwan.' The Chinese people will not allow the United States to intervene in China's internal affairs. Even if the United States actually tries to use force to stop China from reunifying."
MACAU: "U.S. And North Korea Hope Put An End To Hostility"
The Pro-PRC Macau Daily News judged (10/13): "The U.S.-North Korea summit is a result of the changed situation in Northeast Asia. In recent years, Pyongyang has maintained its flexible and pluralistic diplomacy and has successfully established diplomatic relations with a number of countries. North Korea-Russia relations and North Korea-China relations have been enhanced. North Korea's suggestion to replace its self-developed missile technology with foreign missile technology had aroused the interest of the United States and Japan. In addition, the North and South Korean summit in June broke their longstanding deadlock, and they reached an agreement to promote various kinds of exchanges, striving their best to realize reunification. Despite their great differences, North Korea and Japan have resumed negotiations on normal relations. In contrast, U.S.-North Korea relations are still tense. Although they are still having marathon talks, the United States is lagging far behind. Thus, they must put the relations of the two countries on a new foundation via high-level official negotiations."
AUSTRALIA: "Kim Steers A Slow Boat To Reunification"
An op-ed from foreign editor Greg Sheridan in the national Australian read (10/20): "If reconciliation does proceed on the Korean peninsula, it will vindicate Kim Dae-jung's controversial 'sunshine' policy of killing the North with kindness. This policy received critical backing in the report ion Korean policy by former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry. If it all works out, it will also vindicate the Clinton approach to North Korea, perhaps the only issue in Asia which the Clinton administration has handled consistently well. This gives Clinton, still searching for his place in history, a big incentive to go to Pyongyang. Kim Dae-jung just might have got all the strategic ducks in a row."
"Two Koreas As One"
An editorial in the leading Sydney Morning Herald observed (10/13): "Hopes of Korean reunification...have been overshadowed by fear and mistrust on both sides. This has been brought into sharper relief by the visit to the United States of Mr. Cho Myong-rok, the first high-level North Korean official to visit Washington. Mr. Cho...is seen by the Americans as particularly keen to have North Korea's name erased from a list of states believed by Washington to sponsor terrorism. That is the key to opening the way to U.S. aid and investment. For this to happen...Pyongyang must give much ground, especially in relation to its program of developing and selling guided missiles.... North Korea's position, as it begins to talk to the outside world, is still not clear."
THAILAND: "Kim's Prize A Boost For Democracy In Asia"
The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation commented (10/14): "No other Asian leader of the last three decades has been such a strong and persistent advocate of human rights, nor put so much on the line for his beliefs.... In terms of peace on the Korean Peninsula, the prize will bolster Kim's two-year-old Sunshine Policy. At times, this policy has been severely criticized by the opposition parties and by some quarters in Korean society for being too soft on North Korea. However, coupled with the good results of the recent inter-Korean summit, the peace prize will now help ensure the Sunshine Policy will serve as the bedrock for future reconciliation between the two Koreas."
"Kim Fully Deserves His Nobel Glory"
The top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post commented (10/14): "While praise is due to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il for opening up the door to rapprochement, the Nobel Committee has clearly stated that this year's award is not only aimed at recognizing the gains made at the historic June summit between the two Korean leaders, but to the lifelong dedication shown by Kim Dae-jung. Mr. Kim, who has spent most of his life in the noble pursuit of human rights, dignity and justice at great risk, deserves the Nobel Committee's recognition for trying to help bring his dream of a united, democratic Korea closer to fruition for his fellow countrymen. This is exactly what Alfred Nobel intended for his legacy, and the Nobel committee should be commended for its excellent judgment in choosing Kim Dae-jung for what many consider to be one of humanity's greatest honors."
BRITAIN: "Rogues? Not Any More"
The liberal Guardian editorialized (10/20): "Britain's decision to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea, while welcome in itself, is another body blow for the U.S. policy of containment of so-called 'rogue states.' It stems from the sensible belief that dialogue with problematic regimes, where possible, is preferable to isolation, sanctions and military threats.... Even the United States is tacitly beginning to recognize that its containment policy, a cold war hangover, is simply not working. Washington no longer uses the term 'rogue states' to describe its perceived enemies; they are now 'countries of concern.'"
"A Normal North Korea?"
The conservative Daily Telegraph opined (10/20): "It has taken Britain more than a half century to decide on normalizing relations with North Korea. No other country has been held for so long by Whitehall in the diplomatic cold.... Since the death of the elder Kim in 1994, his son, Kim Jong-il, has tried to lead North Korea out of its Stalinist autarky. The main reason for this change has been economic collapse. It is in this context that Robin Cook's announcement yesterday about establishing diplomatic relations with North Korea should be seen. It does not signal approval of the regime, which remains totalitarian and an exporter of missile technology. Rather, it is a calculation that engagement is a better way of changing North Korea than isolation."
"Engagement And Trade Are The Ways To Foster Democracy"
In its lead editorial, the centrist Independent argued (10/20): "North Korea was the only country with which Britain refused to have diplomatic relations. The ending of that peculiar form of national disapproval is a welcome and long-overdue step.... Dialogue offers the hope of changing minds: with states as with people, refusal to talk is a childish act.... The British government's decision is the right one. It improves the chances of a prosperous, united, democratic Korea. It also raises the pressure slightly for an end to U.S. hypocrisy on Cuba. It is this kind of pragmatism that truly deserves to be called an ethical foreign policy."
GERMANY: "The Best Of All Selections"
Centrist General-Anzeiger of Bonn judged (10/14): "Who, if not Kim Dae-jung, could be a better Nobel Peace laureate in the new millennium? This week of announcements and honoring in Oslo and Stockholm ended with the best of all decisions. This week of peacelessness reached its peak of cynicism and disrespect of human life in the Middle East, but ended with Kim's nomination as an encouragement of all those to want peace and accommodation. The former dissident led South Korea into the family of real democratic states, and, with his firm will, continues to drill the thick boards of the unification of divided Korea.... Congratulations to Kim Dae-jung, and congratulations to the Nobel prize jury."
"Nobel Award No Guarantee Of Achieving Peace"
Centrist Mannheimer Morgen noted (10/14): "The Nobel Peace Prize 2000 is a bill for the future rather than an award for a completed performance. The Nobel Prize committee explicitly wanted to help South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung for his conciliatory efforts with the North and give him additional support at home for his policy. This is honorable, but as the past proved again and again, the decision of the committee carries considerable risks. The developments in the Middle East clearly show that even a laureate such as Yasser Arafat is no guarantor for a peaceful development."
"Learn From Europe"
Jacques Schuster maintained in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/12): "With a view to Korea, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that the cold war in Asia could soon come to an end. Indeed, as the policy of small steps between the Korean governments makes progress, North Korea seems to open up and attach an increasing significance to international contacts.... But much needs to change in Pyongyang before we can speak of even a halfway democratic state. Nevertheless, reunification seems no longer be as absurd as it was a few years ago. Washington can be satisfied. As in Europe, a troop presence that lasted for years has resulted in stability in Korea too. But will Washington also keep in mind the geostrategic implications? A Korean unification would probably also mean the withdrawal of U.S. forces and considerably disrupt the Eurasian balance between China and the United States. There is also the threat that Korea could become dependent on China. But this is no argument against Korean reunification. There is still time to build up stability. This is something Europe and NATO demonstrated, too."
Washington correspondent Stefan Kornelius wrote in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/11): "The first visit of a high-ranking North Korean official to Washington is remarkable because--just a few weeks ago--the president, the secretary of state and consorts didn't hesitate for a moment to brand Vice Marshall Cho Myong-nok a terrorist and his country a rogue state. But these pithy words should not obscure the fact that the United States, for quite some time, has pursued a double strategy: secretly luring North Korea with a carrot, while hitting it with a stick in public.... There are clear interests behind Washington's strategy. Of course, the United States thinks of its 37,000 soldiers deployed in South Korea, but in South Asia, a bigger game is involved. Vladimir Putin's pilgrimage to Pyongyang and Cho's invitation to Washington evince a race between Russia and the United States for favors and influence on the strategically important Korean Peninsula. From there, it is only a stone's throw to Washington's real antagonist: China."
Petra Kolonko maintained in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/11): "The first, and thus far, only North Korean disarmament proposal turned out to be a joke. The talks of his emissary in Washington will now indicate whether the North Korean leader is also able to present serious proposals in the current policy of détente. The Americans expect clear answers and hope that the North Koreans will commit themselves to sticking to nonproliferation by stopping their ambitious missile program. We cannot hope for quick progress. Questions of security policy are the most difficult in terms of the inner-Korean talks, too. But the North is at least able to make conciliatory gestures, something we would not have expected from it a few months ago. During the parade commemorating the birthday of the party, North Korea did not display its weapons as usual, and guests from the South were among the spectators."
FINLAND: "North Korea Seeking Openness"
Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat observed (10/16): "President Bill Clinton is still trying to find opportunities to score foreign policy victories to polish his image before the end of his term. The main goal, peace in the Middle East, grows increasingly distant but there are other options. Pulling North Korea out of its isolation and into international cooperation appears the most promising.... The rehabilitation of North Korea is not an easy task, as the country's support for terrorism, its nuclear weapons project and ballistic missile program have destabilized the entire region and brought the peninsula to the brink of war more than once. It is easier for an outgoing U.S. president to make concessions for peace than it will be for his successor, who will be trying to buttress his own position. Therefore, it is vitally important that
the reconciliation process proceed as quickly as possible."
NORWAY: "A Peace Prize To A Hero Of Freedom In Asia"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (10/14): "One of our time's greatest heroes of freedom in Asia, Kim Dae-jung, has been given the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2000.... With its award, the Nobel Committee rewards and encourages one of the most important political processes in the world today.... It also gives a certain honor to the North Korean contribution. But the committee has correctly avoided giving the prize to a regime that still is recognized for dictatorship, indoctrination and the extreme poverty of its own people."
POLAND: "Incredible Acceleration"
Krystyna Szelestowska declared in leftist Trybuna (10/20): "It is clear that there are vested interests behind the attempts at a quick normalization of relations. The United States wants to urge Kim Jong-il to give up the program to build missiles that could reach U.S. territory.... As for communist North Korea, a country that rules in defiance of the elementary principles of economics and that is experiencing unimaginable economic problems, it urgently needs assistance to survive. Pyongyang expects such assistance to come from the West."
SWITZERLAND: "Jumping The Gun On Peace In Korea"
Beat U. Wieser wrote in influential, center-right Neue Zürcher Zeitung (10/14-15): The Nobel Committee is again trying to play politics with the award of its peace prize, rewarding Kim Dae-jung of South Korea for pushing ahead the rapprochement with North Korea. Kim Dae-jung is an impressive politician, but his counterpart in the North, Kim Jong-il, has done at least as much to break down the barriers between the two Cold War adversaries. It was last spring that he suddenly brought the North out of its purdah and responded to the overtures from Seoul. Presumably this thawing was prompted by grave concern about what further isolation would do to the already chronic economic situation in North Korea. Anxious to see the peace process work, the international community has rushed to offer support and has been prepared to overlook some disturbing realities. As with its award to the protagonists in the Middle East peace process in 1995, the Nobel Committee has acted rather prematurely. It is always possible that the inscrutable Kim Jong-il is merely maneuvering for his own ends. Certainly there will be no real peace until there is real political change in the North. Whether Kim Jong-il is the man to bring this change, and whether the rest of the world will provide the right encouragement remain to be seen."
CANADA: "Wrong Korea"
The mid-market Ottawa Citizen editorialized (10/16): "U.S. President Bill Clinton, whose foreign policy victories have not been vast, still seeks a dramatic international ending to his eight long years in office. So he is contemplating a trip to North Korea. Yes, that's NORTH Korea, a place (for those who may have forgotten) that remains one of the world's last bastions of true Cold War communism; whose leaders have allowed famine to rule; whose military is accused of trying to develop sophisticated missiles that could strike at democratic countries. Why Mr. Clinton feels a need to lend North Korea credibility with a presidential visit is not clear. Fortunately, he will soon be gone."
The liberal Toronto Star extolled Kim Dae-jung's virtues (10/15): "At a time when hatred and violence cloud the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and other places, South Korean President
Kim Dae-jung stands out as an inspiration to dispirited peacemakers. An Asian political giant who has committed his life to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights, Kim reminds us, simply, that things don't have to be as bad as they so often are.... His moral strength should inspire us all."
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