Monday, December 17, 2012

To the Korean Presidential Candidates

Taken from the Catholic  Bishops' Conference of Korea News Letter

A Question to the Candidates for the Presidential Election

Among the many questions posed to the candidates before the 18th presidential election on December 19, 2012, one which must be taken into sincere deliberation to find a proper answer is critical: "Should we give priority to the reconciliation of the two Koreas or should we solve first and foremost the problem of conflict and/or social polarization within South Korea?"

From the beginning, the present government with President Lee Myeong-bak came up with an inter-Korean policy which is almost impossible for North Korea to accept. The South Korean government said it would cooperate with North Korea, so that the North, having given up nuclear arms, could reach the mark of 3,000 USD on GNP per capita within ten years after opening its border to the outer world. Besides, the present government denounced the so-called "Sunshine Policy" of the two late presidents, Mr. Kim Dae-jung and Mr. Roh Mu-hyeon, arguing that those 10 years of their successive presidencies were lost and in vain. Consequently, the relationship between North and South Korea grew worse, as both Koreas entered into a phase of mutual defamation, disagreement, and even military conflict.

Those who argue for tougher measures against North Korea say that the Sunshine Policy contributed to increasing resources for the dictatorship and nuclear arms in North Korea and made the South dance in humiliation to the piping of the North. On the other hand, those affirming the Sunshine Policy assert that the government escalated the tension between the two Koreas with hard-line policies that resulted in the collapse of inter-Korean economic cooperation. It is said that North Korea yielded the mining rights on abundant minerals in its territory to the People's Republic of China (PRC), as North Korea inclined toward de facto economic and political subordination to the PRC in its struggle for bare survival under international pressures.

What the North Korean regime fears most is the North Korean people, not the military might of South Korea or of the USA. In fact, the North Korean regime as well as the conservative camp of South Korea might want to shun by all means the allegedly "dangerous" dĕnte between the two Koreas which started with the Sunshine Policy.

The North Korean regime might want to create more tension between the two Koreas with provocative means, if and when South Korea tries to spread the warmth of the Sunshine Policy to the North Korean people. At the same time, the conservative camp of South Korea would ask the government for more hard-line policies for the inter-Korean relationship on the pretext that such  measures are appropriate for North Korea.

It is not humiliation but tolerance that leads a strong and wealthy party to be generous enough to accommodate the mistakes of its counterpart. To accommodate North Korea with the spirit of infinite forgiveness and love for mutual benefits may well be the cross which our nation should bear. In this regard, I would like to ask the presidential candidates about their concrete policies or visions for the reconciliation of the two Koreas as the first step towards the unification of Korea.

Fr. Thaddaeus Lee Ki-rak
Executive Secretary of the CBCK

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