Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Four days in June

North and South Korea agreed today that former South Korean President Kim Daejung will visit Pyongyang for four days in late June for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The agreement was reached in working-level talks in the North's Mt. Kumgangsan resot between former South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se Hyun and North Korea's Vice Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Committee, Ri Jonghyok.

This trip would be (until it happens, I'll speak conditionally) a repeat of the landmark summit between the two Kims in June 2000, which resulted in a string of national reconciliation and economic cooperation projects.

Of course, people like my then-89-year-old 먼할머니 thought that President Kim Daejung should be arrested for treason for that. Other less angry critics would point out that since then, very few of Pyongyang's promises have actually come to any fruition. Cross-DMZ railway service is still not open (though it might be for the Kim Daejung trip) and the Dear Leader himself has yet to pay a reciprocal visit, as he had promised.

Of course, that's not going to happen. Any inter-Korean summit is going to have to be in North Korea for the foreseeable future. Kim Jong-il would face massive protests if he were to come to the South. And who knows, maybe some of the pragmatic elite up in the DPRK would take the chance to have a bloodless coup.

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