Chung, a preening, self-promoting former TV news anchor whose smug look when he talks about North Korea makes even pacifists want to choke him, has quit in order to shore up the ruling Uri Party's plummeting popularity ahead of elections in May and prepare for his own run for the presidency at the end of next year [Kushibo shudders].
The AP report describes Lee as "a respected expert on the North" who is "considered an architect of Roh's policy on the communist neighbor." He is "reform-minded" and supports engagement with North Korea, but "critics accuse him of being pro-Pyongyang." That's putting it diplomatically.
Via the Chongwadae (Blue House) website, senior presidential secretary for personnel affairs Kim Wan-key had this to say about Lee:
Lee is an expert on North Korea.... He has played an important role in embodying the government's philosophy in foreign and security affairs.Yeah, that's what makes me nervous. Which part of the government's "philosophy" is he responsible for? Reducing the number of North Koreans who can make it to South Korea? Declaring a "diplomatic war" on Tokyo to pander for support from jingoists with no sense of what's in South Korea's interests? Allowing relations with Washington to deteriorate?
Last week Marmot had mentioned Lee as a possible successor to Comrade Chung. What he wrote about Lee embodies what is wrong with so many of Roh's choices, but he also offers some positive thoughts:
Actually, seeing Lee become Unification Minister might not be as disastrous as it would initially seem. Lots of negative things could be said about Lee, the supposed head of the Cheong Wa Dae Taliban faction, but the former Sejong Institute scholar is a legitimate North Korea expert. In his current position as deputy NSC chief, he's handicapped by the fact that the only thing he really knows about is North Korea. As Unification Minister, the narrow nature of his area of expertise could be less of a problem.I don't know if that really makes me feel better, but at least it offers some hope.
We don't need another ideologue [coincidentally, pronounced a lot like idiot log]; the Roh administration has had too many people that are so far to the left you can't see them because of the curvature of the Earth.
What we need is a pragmatist who sees and is willing to address how North Korea itself creates problems for South Korean security, Seoul's own "Sunshine Policy," and healthy ROK-US relations.