SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA--In a part of the world where diplomacy usually means never saying you're sorry, South Korea's president publicly apologized to North Korea on Tuesday for a rally at which anti-communists burned a North Korean flag and an effigy of leader Kim Jong Il.
The nationally televised statement by Roh Moo Hyun paved the way for North Korea to participate in the Universiade, an 11-day student athletic tournament taking place in the South Korean city of Taegu.
Protest organizer Seo Si Joo reasonably asks "Why should President Roh apologize for the democratic right of citizens to freely express their opinion?". Well, that's a really good question Seo Si Joo. It would be very interesting to hear how South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun answers that question. Signs on that score are not hopeful. President Roh Moo-hyun, leader of a fairly free and quite prosperous nation, apparently doesn't pine for the day when joyous crowds of North Koreans burn North Korean flags in celebration of the regime's overthrow.
"It is improper to burn North Korea's national flag and the portrait of leader Kim Jong-il. I feel regretful over this," the spokeswoman quoted him as saying.
"I hope this will not happen again," he said.
Gosh, I hope it will happen again and on a much bigger scale involving tens of millions of people.
Meanwhile, with trade between South and North Korea over $600 million last year the South Korean government is moving to implement a financial and trade agreement with North Korea in order to make that trade go even higher.
The agreements, signed in December 2000, call for the two sides to protect each others' investments, avoid double taxation, open a direct route for financial transactions and establish a panel to settle trade disputes.
While South Korea is preoccupied with appeasing North Korea and building up inter-Korean trade Georgetown University professor Victor Cha thinks South Korea should look beyond its own preoccupations and join in efforts to intercept North Korean shipping to end the North Korean missile and WMD trade.
This autumn, countries that are members of the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, will likely begin exercises in the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea to practice search and seizure operations against the transfer of materials for weapons of mass destruction, or WMD.
These activities could represent the beginning of a new global norm, but they will bypass South Korea -- despite its national aspirations to become a player on the world stage -- because Seoul cannot look past its own preoccupations.
With appeasement demanding so much of President Roh's time I can't see how he could find the time to help prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He's a busy man after all. Perhaps Roh could steal a page from North Korea's playbook and mercilessly suppress even the smallest signs of dissent from his policies. Then he wouldn't have to spend time apologizing for the crazy antics of freedom-loving protestors. Why not do this? After all, if Roh doesn't think people should protest against the behavior of the Pyongyang regime then he must not think there is any problem with the actions that Kim Jong-il takes.
This is not the first time Widaehan Suryong Roh Mu-hyeon Dongji has reacted strongly to the burning of the North Korean flag. Back in June, Korean riot police forcibly stopped anti-North Korean demonstrators from setting the Nork flag ablaze. The previous year, then President Kim Dae-jung stopped protestors from burning North Korean flags and portraits of Da' Fat Man during the Asian Games in Pusan. The irony, of course, rests not only with the hands-off approach the government takes with the burning of the American flag - in point of fact, the North Korean flag is one of the few foreign flags that can be legally burned in South Korea, given that Seoul does not actually recognize North Korea as a nation.
Double standards about US and North Korean flags with the North Koreans getting more respect in South Korean? Who would have expected it? Okay, leave aside those who pay attention to what happens in South Korea. Who else would have expected it? Oh, alright, leave aside those who expect long-time American allies [Ed. former allies me: yeah, okay, former allies] to routinely dis on America for protecting their asses, who else would have expected it? Look at dogs. They are very loyal. Would they have expected it? No, of course not. Of course, dogs in Korea get eaten as delicacies. So maybe Robert Koehler doesn't expect Korean dogs to display loyalty. But isn't that the point? If a country isn't loyal to its dogs then why should we expect it to be loyal it its allies? [Ed. former allies me: yeah, okay, former allies] So what is going on in South Korea is a logical outcome of their use of dogs as human food.
Kevin at IA includes in his analysis of the flag burning-apology episode the important point that sports events do not build world peace.
The Korea Times:
Tension exists on the peninsula due to the North’s ambition to build weapons of mass destruction. We sincerely hope the North Koreans’ participation at the Daegu Universiade will contribute to ease tensions, promote peace and mend sour ties.
You know what I'm fucking sick of? Listening to any asshole with a mouth blabber on about how every athletic competition, concert, and dance festival that includes both North and South Korea is "promoting peace" or "easing tensions" on the Korean peninsula. Guess what fucksticks? Archery competitions and concerts aren't promoting anything but archery and shitty pop music. Why is it that every damn South Korean delegation has to make the argument that South Korea deserves an Olympics or a World Cup or a frog-fucking festival based on said event's potential for promoting peace, reconciliation, or reunification with North Korea? Is there a single shred of evidence to support that theory? Is it a pathetic play for pity? Did the 2002 Asian Games in Busan -- in which North and South Korea marched together under one flag -- convince North Korea to cease their production of nukes? Did it stop them from murdering 6 South Korean sailors last summer? Did it prevent them from firing at South Korean soldiers in the DMZ last month?
Please, shut the fuck up about promoting peace. It's a broken record and I'm tired of it, particularly in light of the fact that you bastards take every opportunity to piss on American soldiers, who are the real reason there's been 50 years of peace on the peninsula. That's right, North Korean flute concertos don't contribute one iota to the protection of South Korean lives. The GIs that you spit on, kidnap, harrass, disrespect, call murderers, and generally despise...do.
What is it about people who most loudly promote peace? If you think "peace activist" do you immediately think "fool"? Or do you immediately think "idiot" and then only as an afterthought "fool"?
Update II: For anyone hoping that the opposition party in South Korea would take a hard line against the apology is going to be disappointing.
The opposition Grand National Party released a statement arguing that President Roh's decision to offer an apology is "understandable but premature."
Premature? What, South Korea should have waited a whole day or maybe even two days before apologizing?
Then there is the treatment of the North Korean athletes. They are not allowed to defect.
To protect the North Koreans and prevent possible defections or other incidents, the delegation at Busan last October was tightly guarded and sealed off from outsiders. Taegu organizers have vowed similar tight security this month.
The South Koreans are badly in need of a moral compass. They must have lost theirs.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 August 20 04:02 PM Korea|