Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mohammed Lee will not go to the mountain of Kim

All this talk about a Lee-Kim summit is being pooh-poohed by the Blue House. The current government has been quite critical of visits by former presidents Kim Daejung and Roh Moohyun, and the last thing they want to do is look like they are kowtowing to the Dear Leader.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, we should expect a summit in Seoul or elsewhere in South Korea, if one is to be expected at all:
"President Lee is resolute in his stance that he will not go to Pyongyang to hold a summit," an official at the presidential office said Tuesday. "The venue is a very sensitive issue for us. Looking at the president's official comments made since his inauguration about an inter-Korean summit, he has said he is willing to hold one 'at any time' but not 'at any time and any place' as was the position of previous administrations. This is an important point."

The reason why Ch'ŏng•wa•dae (the Blue House) is placing so much importance on the venue is because of a focus on reciprocity in relations with North Korea, borne of a sense that previous administrations were at the North's beck and call. "Former presidents Kim Daejung and Roh Moohyun both went to North Korea for the summits, and based on the principle of reciprocity, the position of this administration is that there will be no more summit trips to Pyongyang," one official said.
I can understand a need for security, which might preclude Seoul, as well as a location that would take into consideration Kim Jong-il's apparent fear of travel. Perhaps Sŏraksan would be appropriate, considering that its sister national park, North Korea's Kŭmgangsan, is a favored venue for North-South interaction. Or maybe Kanghwa-do Island, which is easily accessible to North Korea by ship or a combination of rail and road, would be a good place. Or maybe just Torasan Station, just south of the DMZ on the Seoul-Pyongyang rail link.


  1. I'm all for peace on the peninsula, but what good has come from these visits by the south? The north only seems to keep trying to take advantage of the south's blind love. I know KJI has all these issues with travel, but it's only right that the north's leader come to meet the south's president.

  2. I think the visits have done some less tangible good. Among other things, they have shown North Koreans that the South Koreans are not the devil, which goes a long way toward eroding decades of propaganda.

    I think the interactions lead to unintended consequences, and getting KJI to come south might have some positive repercussions that we haven't yet imagined, so (like you) I would prefer that the Dear Leader come to the ROK instead of Lee going to the DPRK. As long as the photo-op is not bought and paid for.


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