Table of Contents
- Korea Focus - February 2012
- Politics 1. National Strategy for Post 2. Post-Kim jong-il crisis management 3. Change in North Korea is a Blessing 4. A Wider Window of Opportunity for the Korean Peninsula 5. China`s perception and Policy
- Economy 1. Korean Capitalism Stands at Crossroads 2. Chaebol Urged Lead Moral Evolution of Capitalism 3. Policy Reform and Happy Society 4. Korea a Role Model in Donating Vaccines for Poorest Countries
- Society 1. New Communication Culture and Democratic Community 2. To the Late Chairman Park Tai-joon 3. New Agenda of the Republic of Korea 4. Rule of Law Crumbles amid Ideological Conflict and Violence 5. Why Do You Ask People Their Age
- Culture 1. Korea’s Intangible Heritage for Humanity 2. Yoko’s Story’ and the Truth about Korea 3. Solitary Historian Once Scorned by Her Motherland 4. Winter Solstice and Christmas 5. Nurturing Hallyu through Copyright Protection
- Essay 1. North Korea-China Treaty of Friendship: New Implications and Current Bilateral Relations
2. The Kim Jong-un Risk and the Korean Peninsula 3. Setting the Agenda for the Success of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul 4. Korea’s Top Ten Hits of 2011
- Feature 1. Renaissance Man: UNESCO Marks 250th Birth Anniversary of Jeong Yak-yong 2. Veggie Korea
- BookReview 1. Readying for Rapid Unification Process and Post-Unification Politics 2. Neo-Confucian Scholars Addicted to Architecture
- Interview 1. Kim Sung-hwan: “Nuclear terrorism should be prevented by all means.”
- National Strategy for Post-Division Process - Post-Kim Jong-il Crisis Management - Change in North Korea is a Blessing - A Wider Window of Opportunity for the Korean Peninsula - Chinaâ€™s Perception and Policy toward the Post-Kim Jong-il Regime
National Strategy for Post-Division Process
Yoon Pyung-joong Professor of Political Philosophy Hanshin University
The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was electrifying news as the year ended, but it hardly alarmed South Koreans. They have become accustomed to dramatic events suddenly happening in the North and had anticipated the death. And while Pyongyang swiftly moved to handle the situation, both China and the United States expressed strong desire for stability on the Korean peninsula. Under such circumstances, I would prefer to see the Seoul government send an official condolence delegation to Pyongyang, a much bolder step than simply expressing “sympathy to the North Korean people.” In that respect, Seoul is one step behind astute Chinese authorities. Of course, there is the problem of lingering resentment over North Korea’s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island as well as the sinking of South Korea’s naval craft Cheonan in 2010. However,
nations operate under “state reason” that is more fundamental than the direction of popular emotion or public opinion. Unlike reason of individuals, the reason of state is two-pronged, serving as a principle for both state functions and behavior, often proving to be devilish – especially in critical situations in which the destiny of a political community is at stake. This does not mean that a state is permitted to commit unmoral acts. However, a state cannot be steered by morality and justifiability alone. Thus, it has the prerogative to conduct “exclusive exercises of necessary and appropriate force.” North Korea is widely judged as having the worst political system in the history of humankind. Even starving slaves can plot a revolt, but ruthless suppression and vigilance on an unprecedented scale prevents any civil uprising in the North. It is quite natural for us to be indignant about the Kim dynasty, which trumpets the building of a “strong and prosperous nation” while driving its people into tragic poverty. Nonetheless, the nuclear-wielding regime in Pyongyang is the sole voice of authority in the North that can be dealt with. China, the real “major power” that rivals the United States for global hegemony, has publicly manifested its protection of North Korea, which acts as a buffer state for the Chinese. In 1950, a year after the establishment of the communist People’s Republic, China fully committed itself to fight for North Korea in the Korean War. Considering Beijing’s position, looking forward to the collapse of the Pyongyang regime under a wave of tumultuous developments would be wishful thinking. If so, the conclusion is self-evident. That is, for a number of years to come, we will have to deal with North Korea’s existing regime and system. Otherwise,
South Korea, devoid of channels of dialogue and negotiations with the North, could be pushed aside as an outsider in the international power game surrounding the Korean peninsula. Looking back at recent inter-Korean relations, the Lee Myung-bak administration seems to deserve some credit for its North Korea policy in terms of state reason, even though it has invited criticism for diverse reasons. The death of Kim Jong-il, for example, was probably sped up due to his exhaustion from overworking himself under dire economic hardship which was further aggravated partly because of the South’s suspension of assistance. At the same time, home-grown markets have become increasingly active in the North. These developments mark a significant departure from Kim Jong-il’s North Korea, where no changes could be expected. Although Kim Jong-un’s North Korea will have to be confined for some time in the framework of dynastic power succession, the father-to-son transition is certain to bring remarkable changes to the North’s governing system. The year 2012 should mark the dawn of a grand strategy that will alter the South’s policies toward the North and usher in a post-division era to achieve unification. A critical analysis of the North Korea policies under the Kim Daejung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations reveals that Pyongyang opted for provocative acts to serve its own needs. Progress in inter-Korean relations was not a factor. This is why the South should astutely employ a stick-and-carrot strategy. Seoul should display flexibility to pay its condolences to Kim Jong-il and take advantage of the opportunity to seize the initiative in setting a course for peace on the Korean peninsula and checking China’s enormous influence on the North.
Furthermore, there is no reason why South Korea, superior in terms of state reason, cannot be forthright in implementing its future-oriented strategy. State reason essentially provides for the transition of interim emergency concentration of power toward a republican system based on civil liberty. Accordingly, South Korea successfully managed to transform its autocratic experiences under Syngman Rhee (Yi Seung-man) and Park Chung-hee into the meaningful democratization of l987, whereas North Koreaâ€™s totalitarianism persisted throughout the regimes of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il to stifle civil liberty and republican aspirations. The evident contrast dictates that North Korea, without substantive reform and changes, would be doomed to a total fiasco. South Korea has indeed set a shining example that a country of free and mature citizens is bound to thrive, a precious experience that should prevail over the North beginning in the New Year. [Chosun Ilbo, December 26, 2011]
Post-Kim Jong-il Crisis Management
Dong Yong-seung Senior Fellow Samsung Economic Research Institute
Upon the sudden death of Kim Jong-il, chairman of North Koreaâ€™s National Defense Commission, uneasiness prevails both at home and abroad about the possibility that the Pyongyang hierarchy will become rife with unpredictable changes, souring relations with regional powers and destabilizing the already tense situation on the Korean peninsula. Deepening the misgiving is the fact that Kim held such absolute power and unchallenged stature that his departure plunges his countryâ€™s peculiar political system and fragile economy into an uncertain future. However, I believe that the overall circumstances are not as unstable and worrisome as generally perceived. Furthermore, the situation can be stabilized quickly if we make concerted efforts to overcome hurdles. Preparatory steps for power transition, though condensed, already had been taken. Kim Jong-ilâ€™s
third son and heir, Jong-un, was installed as a vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission in September 2010 and underwent intensive mentoring for the hereditary succession. Leadership realignment within the power elite also was undertaken to back the young successor. While undergoing the compressed succession process, Kim Jong-un actually made decisions on a wide range of internal affairs. During the two years before his death, Kim Jong-il made three visits to China and one to Russia. Kim obviously delegated his authority on domestic affairs to his son while on the trips, which amounted to considerable time. The past year was largely spent on consolidating the internal parts for remodeling the state system. Also noteworthy is the conspicuously systematic and orderly process in coping with the Dear Leader’s departure, including the disclosure of the precise cause of his death and taking elaborate follow-up measures. The placement of Kim Jong-un at the top of the funeral committee lineup was apparently aimed at demonstrating to the world, as well as the North Korean populace, that an orderly and stable inheritance process was engraved earlier and under way. The scenario that the North worries about the most is foreign powers attempting to take advantage of the power transition to threaten the country’s ruling system. For now, the new Pyongyang leadership will aggressively try to display stability, while continuously warning that any external challenge will not be tolerated. Therefore, at this juncture, effective crisis management is imperative. Attention should be paid on needlessly antagonizing Pyongyang with predictions of instability, lest it trigger overreaction by the North. Prudence while closely watching developments in the North is required from all parties concerned, including South Korea and the international community
as well. South Korea, in particular, needs to manage the situation with poise and competence. Also, the South Korean society should effectively demonstrate its resolute yet mature posture in coping with this critical development in the North. The South Korean economy will undoubtedly be affected by this precarious state of affairs. However, as proven in past events, South Korea’s economy will display its resilience and bounce back quickly. Therefore, crisis management at this stage needs to focus on not only sustaining South Korea’s economic stability but also taking astute steps to preempt further instability stemming from North Korea’s transition drama. In 1994 when North Korea’s founding father Kim Il-sung suddenly died, South Korean society was overwhelmed with apprehension that North Korea might soon collapse. Tension escalated on the peninsula and the South’s stock markets swooned. But, in about a week, the stock markets normalized. Notwithstanding, several months after Kim Il-sung’s death, the United States signed an agreement with North Korea on the latter’s nuclear development issue without fully ascertaining the stability and credibility of the Pyongyang regime. The accord did not hold up and the nuclear issue has persisted in much worse and complex form. This sorry episode reminds us of the crucial importance of exercising prudent judgment and taking circumspect countermeasures in managing this critical stage of the post-Kim Jong-il era. [Korea Economic Daily, December 20, 2011]
Change in North Korea is a Blessing
Kang Byeong-tae Chief Editorial Writer The Hankook Ilbo
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died a few days ago at the age of 69, three years after suffering a stroke. Although many experts expected him to live only three to five years more, his death was somewhat abrupt. He died younger than his father and regime founder Kim Il-sung, whose body was hardened from fighting Japanese colonial troops. Still, Kim Jong-il lived relatively long; 69 is a much older age for North Koreans than for South Koreans. North Koreans must be as grief-stricken over his death as they were over Kim Il-sung’s death. Kim Jong-il, called the “sun of the nation,” was upheld as another “great leader” alongside his father. North Koreans must be extremely anxious and shocked, considering that the “sun,” which had shined warmly upon them, is gone. But fortunately for them, Kim Jong-il left behind an heir who looks so much like his grandfather and father.
Kim Jong-un, the 29-year-old new leader, was given the rank of a four-star general and appointed vice chairman of the Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission in September 2010. The regime’s propaganda apparatus is touting him as a man of matchless greatness and a genius leader who resembles his grandfather and father. The young leader purportedly has an extraordinary trait with which to inherit the revolutionary cause of juche (self-reliance), exceptional military resourcefulness, outstanding knowledge in computer engineering, culture and arts, and sports, and leadership skills. Indeed, Kim Jong-un resembles his grandfather. In addition, he has been made to look just like Kim Il-sung in his early years even by imitating his hairstyle and clothing – in the same way that statues and portraits of Kim Jong-il are made to look like Kim Il-sung despite their differences in height and features. All of this signifies the regime’s attempt to maintain its legitimacy through a self-cloning process while proclaiming the Supreme Leader’s immortality. The North is using the so-called “biopolitics” as the tool for its hereditary succession of power. How, and how long, can the regime hold out with Kim Jong-il gone? The majority of experts contend that the regime has the capacity to hold out. After Kim Il-sung died in 1994, it held out well, laughing at outsiders who were predicting it would collapse soon. The regime succeeded in maintaining a sense of unity among the people by reminding them of the painful memory of national division and war and taking advantage of their anti-American nationalist sentiment. At the time, the regime was able to sustain itself through tightened control and surveillance; North Koreans lacked a sense of political self-efficacy. Pyongyang’s nuclear confrontation with the United States and international food aid were also conducive to its survival.
From this point of view, it is assumed that the party and the ruling elite, who wield autocratic power, will likely sustain the regime and shield Kim Jongun’s untested leadership. Nevertheless, he could face a crisis such as a power struggle similar to that experienced by the Soviet Union and China after Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong died, if he fails to display leadership skills in tackling challenges at home and abroad or conflict with other members of the ruling elite. In particular, it is not certain whether the North’s unitary leadership system that relied on Kim Jong-il's personal authority rather than relations with the party and the military will remain intact. Although he espoused songun, or “military-first,” doctrine by which the military takes the lead in safeguarding the regime, Kim Jong-il contained the military’s influence. He was wary of its predilection for a “Bonapartist coup.” The new regime could implode if the party and the military fail to manage the transition of power smoothly and become split. Instability and confusion would erupt if nobody can control the party, the military and the society with authority even remotely similar to what Kim Jong-il had. Then, is Kim Jong-il’s death a blessing or a disaster? Some experts who are inclined to dismiss the possibility of regime change for whatever reason, are wary of consequences of sudden change in the North. They are concerned that an unstable North Korea could become a threat to the outside. They fear that the North would heighten tension just like a crouching hedgehog. These experts are like Cassandras, predicting that the hedgehog, if it can no longer hold out, would cause disasters such as mass defection, a civil war, and smuggling of nuclear weapons.
For all this, the change in the North does not necessarily mean that uncontrollable disasters will inevitably ensue. Many people are saying that a peaceful change of regime like ones in the former Eastern Europe will be impossible in the North. But nobody had predicted that a historic change would occur in the Eastern Bloc. Now, two decades later, we cannot afford to wait another two decades and merely end up looking back on what happened in the North. Changes have already begun, with Kim Jong-ilâ€™s death as the catalyst. We badly need the will and a well-crafted policy with which to turn this situation into a blessing. [December 20, 2011]
A Wider Window of Opportunity for the Korean Peninsula
Kim Sung-han Professor of International Relations Graduate School of International Studies, Korea University; Director of the Ilmin International Relations Institute
Chapter 2 in the history of Korean national division has just ended. The first chapter represented by North Korea’s invasion of South Korea and the systemic rivalry of the two Koreas ended with the North’s regime founder and supreme leader Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994. Kim Jong-il’s death in 2011 concluded the second chapter, which featured iron-fisted rule stained by famine, nuclear development and fraudulent diplomacy. It remains to be seen whether the new regime will open an historic third chapter through reform and opening, or sink into chaos where disorder and violence prevail. It is highly uncertain if Kim Jong-un, the new North Korean leader who has assumed responsibility for the future of a population of 24 million at the tender age of 28, can step through a minefield of fierce power struggles and safely
ensure himself the apex of power. But the higher the uncertainty in the North the greater our chance of opening the window of opportunity wider to help the North become a responsible member of the international community. Herein is the reason why Seoul should draft a new strategy for the Korean peninsula as quickly as possible. The cornerstone of the strategy should be groundwork for the unification of the peninsula by persuading the North to reform and open up through dialogue and cooperation. To be sure, shortly before he died, Kim Jong-il decided to accept the “presteps” for resuming the six-party nuclear disarmament talks and 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid. After a certain period of time, Kim Jong-un will highly likely rule the North according to his father’s last wishes in order to refurbish the regime. Therefore, there is a high likelihood that the North will return to the six-party talks, while suspending its uranium enrichment program, reaccept International Atomic Energy Agency inspections, and agree on the suspension of nuclear tests. In this case, Seoul and Washington, along with Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow, should convince Pyongyang that it could do without nuclear weapons and that its “Salami tactics” – splitting up agenda items, holding separate negotiations on each different topic and maximizing demands – can no longer succeed. And Seoul should also set in motion the high-level inter-Korean talks that could persuade Pyongyang to reform and open up. If Beijing “unconditionally” supports and gives massive aid to the Kim Jongun regime, Pyongyang won’t feel the need for inter-Korean dialogue. This will further deepen Pyongyang’s isolation from the international community. Therefore, Seoul should persuade Beijing to make a strategic decision so that inter-Korean dialogue, Washington-Pyongyang talks and Pyongyang-Beijing cooperation will work organically.
Once the six-party talks reopen, Seoul may consider immediately launching a “peace forum” among the two Koreas, the United States and China to create a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. Nonetheless, the South should resolutely respond to any attempt from the North to incapacitate the SeoulWashington alliance under the pretext of a peace regime. Last but not least, Seoul should establish a solid security posture to prevent a strategic vacuum in the transitional period. The North sank South Korea’s Navy corvette Cheonan and shelled Yeonpyeong Island in the process of power succession from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un. The regime committed the provocations to minimize the military’s resistance to the hereditary succession by boosting its morale through belligerent behavior. Kim Jong-un will accelerate efforts for the time being to improve his status based on the power structure built by his father. But he might launch another provocation against the South if things do not go as planned. In that case, the South should mount a prompt, focused counterattack based on its strategy of “proactive deterrence.” Accordingly, the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force should revamp the existing command structure, under which the top commanders cannot do anything proactively. The South needs to speed up defense reform to streamline the command structure so that the chiefs of the three forces can exercise their rightful authority under the supervision of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [Munhwa Ilbo, December 21, 2011]
China’s Perception and Policy toward the Post-Kim Jong-il Regime
Chun Sung-heung Professor of Political Science Sogang University
Since North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s sudden death, attention has been focused at home and abroad on what will become of the regime he left behind. People are perking up their ears to figure out whether their own “sudden change” scenarios are materializing. One major concern is what moves China, as North Korea’s closest ally, is making. This is because China’s perception and policy toward the North will not only have immense influence on the postKim Jong-il North Korea but also serve as a window through which we can look into the secretive state. China, which has ramped up bilateral cooperation with Pyongyang to an unprecedented level, feels it has the most at stake in keeping the North stable; it is trying to appear sanguine about the future of the North. Not only the
Chinese government but also the majority of North Korea experts in China offer positive views about the future course of the North. Their rationale is that the succession has already been completed and a new power structure led by Kim Jong-un has already been put in place, although he has yet to consolidate his power base. Accordingly, Chinese experts predict that the regime would not deviate significantly from its existing foreign and domestic policies in the short term. Such views must have been based on their own assessment of the situation in the North. But no one can deny that most of their views reflect China’s expectations about the future of the North. In fact, China also is worried about many factors that could destabilize North Korea. China suspects the United States and South Korea are seeking a “qualitative change” in the North albeit in a stable environment. The thought of the Pyongyang regime collapsing unnerves China. Beijing is worried that a huge influx of North Korean refugees would try to flee into its northeastern region and would not welcome sharing a border with South Korea and its U.S. military presence. Above all, China is concerned that Washington is trying to contain its rising power by strengthening alliances with Asian nations, including South Korea. Thus, from a geopolitical standpoint, a stable regime in the North is tantamount to a security assurance for China. To that end, China has been more proactively reassessing the strategic importance of the North as a buffer state since the United States switched its strategic focus from the Middle East back to Asia. In the past, China kept a suspicious eye on North Korea’s plan for hereditary succession of power and avoided directly responding to it despite several visits
to China by Kim Jong-il. But immediately after Kim’s death, China officially recognized and supported the Kim Jong-un regime through a joint telegram of condolences sent in the name of the party, the government, the military, and the National People’s Congress. In addition, all nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee paid their condolences at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. Of course, Beijing has repeatedly emphasized through various channels that there will be no change in its friendly relations and policy toward North Korea. All this clearly shows that China wants the North to stabilize as soon as possible. Beijing is sending this message implicitly to neighboring countries that are rethinking their policies toward the North. Beijing has been able to establish a close relationship with the North’s new leadership before anybody else as a result of its leaders’ timely condolences. As a “ripple effect,” Beijing has also been able to leave neighboring countries impatient in their relations with the North by securing a beachhead in Northeast Asia in the post-Kim Jong-il era before anybody else. China is expected to provide the North with diplomatic and economic assistance it needs during the mourning period and beyond. Given the circumstances, China will play the role of an international protector for the North, while helping the new leadership boost its weak legitimacy at home. Therefore, the North, suddenly placed in a very acute situation, is expected to further rely on China. In the same vein, China’s role will be more important in the future as far as North Korean issues are concerned, considering that the North will likely concentrate on revamping and consolidating internal structure for awhile. The regional situation has become more complicated than ever with North Korea and all of its neighbors variously reinterpreting “stability of the Korean
peninsula,â€? while making it a top priority. Under these circumstances, all countries concerned should be prepared for instability and uncertainty in North Korea
misunderstanding through communication and dialogue. In view of the stalemated inter-Korean relations and uncomfortable ties between Seoul and Beijing, the current state of affairs, more critical than ever before, is posing significant diplomatic and security challenges to us. It is high time we needed wisdom to turn a crisis into an opportunity. [Chosun Ilbo, December 23, 2011]
- Korean Capitalism Stands at Crossroads - Chaebol Urged to Lead Moral Evolution of Capitalism - Policy Reform and Happy Society - Korea a Role Model in Donating Vaccines for Poorest Countries
Korean Capitalism Stands at Crossroads
Park Yung-chul Distinguished Professor of International Studies Korea University
Some say that the world economy will remain gripped by slow growth and instability over the next two or three years while others say the turmoil could last up to 10 years. If these gloomy forecasts are correct, the Korean economy is about to enter a period of unpredictability and chaotic upheaval. Already the nationâ€™s politics are paralyzed. Growing public distrust and dissatisfaction towards the Lee Myung-bak government have strengthened the position of progressive forces. That has sparked a swing to the left by the conservative government and competing social welfare pledges by conservatives and liberals. Korea is close to joining the ranks of advanced countries after overcoming poverty and achieving rapid development within half a century. The nationâ€™s
success story is said to be unprecedented in the world. But the remarkable growth has been shadowed by side effects that reflect a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. Social bipolarization has deepened due to contraction of the middle class and small and medium-sized companies. The unemployment rate of young adults has risen and hard-pressed ordinary people feel more alienated because they feel social welfare policy does not get enough attention. Also blamed are large conglomerates and family-owned enterprises. They are accused of neglecting their social responsibilities. Against such a backdrop, the liberal Roh Moo-hyun came to power in 2003 but the nation’s economic conditions deteriorated further. Lee Myung-bak won back the presidency for conservatives in 2007 on the back of his “747” pledge of 7 percent growth, $40,000 per capita income and making Korea the seventh-largest economy in the world. But his government’s reform drive has lost steam and its economic accomplishments have fallen short of public expectations. Faced with the mounting public distrust and dissatisfaction, the Lee government has been trying new forms of capitalism, touting catchy but ambiguous
pragmatism, ethical management, responsibility of capital, fair society and shared growth. Nothing has lasted. The government is still wandering between conservatism and liberalism. In contrast, the progressive camp seems to have a clear-cut alternative. It proposes that the government build a peaceful welfare society by directly redistributing income, wealth and resources itself instead of depending on market forces. Some within the progressive circles even say that they feel
nostalgia for the industrial policies of the 1960s and 1970s. Apart from the debate on the local economic system, both conservative and liberal camps have poured out populist and people-friendly pledges, including free school lunches, free education and half-priced college tuition. Under the current circumstances, it doesnâ€™t seem that any conservative force is capable of deterring or controlling the left-leaning trend. Some people contend that the left-leaning activities should be accommodated to a certain degree, particularly in order to resolve shortcomings in conservative policies. But we have to stave off a dangerous situation, in which disorderly and extreme populism disguised as liberalism holds sway over economic policymaking. Above all, the debate on market reforms should be redirected if we want to address the rise of ultra-leftist populism. Many advanced and emerging market economies, including Korea, are struggling to cope with a rapid rise in welfare demand. The welfare dilemma and lack of effective financial market controls have fueled the reform outcry. But the direction of discussions has yet to be clarified. Besides, considering the latest global trends, it would be unwise to reform the economic system to simply pacify voters. The timing is particularly unfavorable as the Korean economy is now mired in difficulty at home and abroad. The welfare debate so far appears to be derailed due to a lack of moderation. There is no answer if both conservatives and liberals donâ€™t differ on the direction of welfare policies. Experts say that Koreaâ€™s welfare system appears to be a hodgepodge of similar policy measures imported from various foreign countries for political considerations. What is worse, the effects of these welfare policy measures have never been properly analyzed. Reform of the welfare system will be possible only after the existing policies and systems are
fully evaluated and analyzed. In the run-up to this year’s elections, it is difficult to expect the conflicting classes and interest groups to agree on the scale and scope of welfare. Nonetheless, political parties should be very careful about making welfare pledges. That’s because they generally cannot be fulfilled. To be sure, excessive welfare spending would trigger a vicious cycle of ballooning fiscal deficit, the threat of a lower sovereign credit rating, higher premiums on credit default swaps and increasing overseas borrowing costs. If domestic financial markets become unstable and signs of a financial crisis emerge, even a liberal government may have no other choice but to backtrack on welfare policies. A policy reversal would worsen social conflict. Conservatives and liberals must try to reach realistic compromises on welfare policies. The progressive camp’s pursuit of old-fashioned industrial policies can hardly be understood. Korea, one of the biggest beneficiaries of global free trade, has now grown into the world’s ninth-largest trading country. A Korean government could hardly avoid criticism and retaliation for unilaterally ignoring international economic order and regulation, if it revives outdated industrial policies of the 1960s and 1970s and pushes to safeguard and foster specific enterprises and industries. With job creation emerging as the top priority for conservatives and liberals alike, criticism against growth-oriented policies has been gathering momentum. It is not clear whether expansion of job opportunities naturally leads to faster growth and whether slower growth poses problems. Successive governments in Korea have all selected job creation as their top economic policy priority and employed all possible policy measures, including restructuring the labor market, but the results have been disappointing.
All of our countryâ€™s political parties have leaped to issue job-creation pledges when campaigning for elections, though their commitment to boosting employment is questionable. Stress on economic growth is avoided to avoid being denounced as a tricky conservative. Still, Korea has an urgent reason to pursue sustainable economic growth. At the current pace of growth, it may take at least 30 years to catch up with the income levels of the United States or Japan. No country in and around Northeast Asia wishes Korea well. Our nation is simply an object of jealousy and competition. Korea has to overtake Japan and stay ahead of China in terms of technological development and income, if it wants to firmly establish itself as an independent nation under the current geopolitical circumstances. Lately, local conservatives are increasingly leaning to the left and their liberal counterparts are taking extremely progressive positions. The development can give the wrong impression that Korea can be embroiled in internal social conflicts that will move it to the sidelines of the international community. Above all, there is an impression that Korea has forgotten its most urgent national goal: firmly laying the foundation for its survival as an independent nation by fending off external threats and actively participating in projects to enhance prosperity and stability in the international community. If the deepening left-right ideological conflict and confusion can threaten Koreaâ€™s existence and international foundation, both sides are required to look for more realistic and desirable compromises. The global economic crisis is quite an ordeal for Korea but it can also provide a golden opportunity for a fresh takeoff. To grab the opportunity, the nation has
to minimize the impact from the European debt crisis and other external factors by revising its macroeconomic policy management in a defensive manner. Above all, the government should induce domestic enterprises to invest in a variety of state-of-the-art and growth industries so that they can preoccupy the global markets ahead of their competitors at a time of global economic recovery. [Maeil Business Newspaper, January 6, 2012]
Chaebol Urged to Lead Moral Evolution of Capitalism
Jun Sang-in Professor of Sociology Graduate School of Environmental Studies Seoul National University
In early January of 2008, about one month before Lee Myung-bak’s presidential inauguration, I wrote in this newspaper that Korea was changing from a “hungry” society to an “angry” society. The analysis referred to the nation’s early industrialization period of absolute poverty and the more recent sense of deepening deprivation and inequality. Today, nearly four years later, I want to modify my view. It is not true that Korean society was moving from a hungry era to an angry era. The truth is that we have entered an era in which poverty is combined with anger, with people growing angry due to poverty. The primary cause for the change is social bipolarization.
Of course, polarization is a worldwide phenomenon stemming from the ongoing globalization. The Oxford English Dictionary has chosen the phrase “squeezed middle” as 2011’s Word of the Year. According to Statistics Korea’s 2011 survey, 52.8 percent of heads of local households said they belong to the middle class, which is the lowest figure since the relevant data were first compiled in 1988. While nearly half of the adult population consider themselves to be the lower class, the ratio of those who expect their children to rise above their socioeconomic level has fallen sharply. Popular resentment towards the world can be naturally understood, if the majority of people are economically distressed and have no hope for the future. There is a historical rule that resentment leads to the emergence of “weapons of the weak,” that is, solidarity and unity. Moreover, the socially underprivileged who live in our era of knowledge and information revolution are an unprecedented species of “smart crowd.” It was by no means an accident that Time magazine chose “The Protester” as the Person of the Year 2011. The election of a liberal civic activist with no party affiliation as the mayor of Seoul last fall and the IT tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo’s sudden rise as a leading potential presidential candidate, for instance, have vividly illustrated the power of the “anger network” created by universal poverty. Korea has become the world’s ninth-largest trading country to achieve $1 trillion in annual trade volume. This proud accomplishment is outshined by the nation’s real youth unemployment rate estimated to surpass 20 percent. The logical feasibility of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is eclipsed by the reality, in which low-paid, non-regular workers account for more than half of the nation’s total work force. If the rapid bipolarization trend forces a growing number of the population into the ranks of dropouts, victims and losers, the
people will increasingly look at the winners as well as the entire society with deep hatred. In this sense, it is noteworthy that the nation’s leading conglomerates, including Samsung, Hyundai, SK and LG, have drastically increased their year-end charitable donations and expanded their on-site campaigns for the underprivileged. In another attention-getting change, chairmen of local conglomerates are more actively establishing public foundations and stepping up social contribution activities. But these moves cannot be the fundamental measures for dealing with the era of “new poverty.” The large conglomerates, or chaebol, will have to discard their pre-modern and anti-market practices, such as window dressing in accounting, irregular wealth inheritance, embezzlement of company funds, creation of slush funds, family-owned business structures, sacrifice of small and medium-sized companies, and unfair relationships with suppliers and subcontractors. But irregularities, corruption and greed of chaebol companies still continue to make newspaper headlines. Korea’s chaebol, with a lot of blemishes and weaknesses, may have mistaken their sporadic charitable donations and good deeds for publicity purposes for noblesse oblige. Ironically, the chaebol companies have a tendency of coexisting with anti-capitalist and progressive forces, apparently due to their “original sin.” Chaebol’s decision to “sleep with the enemy,” as seen in their frequent cash donations to progressive activist groups and paid advertisements in left-leaning media, appears to be their own survival strategy. In the eyes of our country’s progressive and leftist forces, chaebol are both a pushover and a host. These unprincipled, abnormal and extrinsic approaches cannot fundamentally
resolve the problems. What is worse, the future of chaebol companies, let alone the sustainability of our nation’s economic system and social structure, cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, the more fundamental solution is for large conglomerates, which are both contributors to polarization and major beneficiaries of the social ill, to play a leading role in the systematic maturing of the market economy and the moral evolution of capitalism. Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes the Lee Myung-bak government, “fair society” and “shared growth” in principle constitute the supreme mandate of our era. Amid the universal economic despair, politicians have been the primary target of the network of angry citizens this year. But in 2012, when both the parliamentary and the presidential elections will take place, the smart crowd is expected to level criticism directly at the management structures of chaebol, which are at the apex of the nation’s ruling cartels. If the chaebol end up failing to get the message, even the right-wing conservative forces will no longer remain their friends. [Dong-a Ilbo, December 23, 2011]
Policy Reform and Happy Society
Yukiko Fukagawa Professor of Political Science Waseda University
Bhutan’s newly married royal couple made a highly-publicized six-day state visit to Japan last month, drawing huge popularity among the Japanese people. A young and handsome king’s honeymoon travel was certainly an interesting event. But the Japanese people also appeared to sympathize with Bhutan’s campaign to maximize the “Gross National Happiness (GNH).” Contrary to the gross domestic product, a yardstick of material wealth, GNH refers to the concept of a quantitative measurement of psychological wellbeing and happiness. According to the 2005 World Values Survey, a global research project to explore people’s values and beliefs carried out by a worldwide network of social scientists, New Zealand topped the list in terms of the percentage of people who rated themselves as either “quite happy” or “very happy.” Americans and Germans were ranked as the ninth and the 36th
happiest peoples, respectively, in the world, both behind Ugandans. Among Asian countries, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia were in the upper ranks, while Korea, Japan and China ranked 23rd, 24th and 45th, respectively. The sympathy towards GNH doesn’t seem to be a unique phenomenon in Japan which suffered a tragic earthquake this past spring. France has set up a special presidential committee in charge of dealing with the people’s happiness. In the U.S. academic circles of economists, the best preference has changed from finances, which used to guarantee big paychecks, to the field of economic development. GNH measures a lot of subjective factors and values. But in terms of social policy, a key factor in the measurement of both GNH and GDP, countries like Korea still have room for improvement. For instance, as recently as 2007, the combined social expenditures by Korea’s government and private sector barely managed to top 10 percent of GDP. The figure is the lowest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), excluding Mexico and Turkey. In terms of the social policy’s impact on poverty reduction and rectification of income disparity, too, Korea ranked at the bottom among the 25 OECD countries excluding the abovementioned two countries. In all OECD countries, except Korea, the rate of poverty rises gradually among retired people aged 66 to 75. But Korea’s poverty rate begins to climb from the 51-65 age group to reach 2.5 times the OECD average among people aged 75 years and over. Korea has the highest rate of household educational investment but the lowest rate of public education support in the OECD. The disparity has severely increased the burden of educational expenses on Korean households. A noticeable increase in youth suicide rate, the soaring divorce rate ranking near
the top in the OECD and other reductions in the nation’s happiness index indicators all can be attributed to the malfunctioning social policies. Korea will have the chance to improve its social policies on the back of sustained economic growth, if its population is as young as Indonesia’s. But its birth rate has already fallen to the world’s lowest level, with the baby boom generation now entering retirement age. The task of redesigning a happy society can no longer be postponed for the future. The presidential election in 2012 has to be an event that can provide the Korean people with a blueprint for building a happy society as well as overcoming the global economic crisis. Social policies should be implemented without fail but their expenses and relations between regional and central governments differ widely depending on the size of population – a small country like Bhutan, a medium-sized country with more than several tens of millions of people, and a large country with over 100 million people. Singapore implemented a 100-percent home ownership policy a long time ago, which cannot be applied to medium-sized or large countries. In a country where demands for social services significantly differ in metropolitan and provincial areas, it is necessary to closely analyze social policies and enforce them differently. In a country where the population is aging rapidly, it is not desirable for the government to hold fast to a conventional social security system that guarantees pension and medical benefits of future generations. The alternative for this case is a proper mix of financial and market policies, including private insurance and real estate policies. A growing number of young people find it difficult to join the social security system as they are unable to land a stable and regular job, while the number of
wealthy elderly people is rising quickly. Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to consider a policy to help the wealthy elderly transfer their assets to the next generation by inheritance. Unlike in the past phase of economic development, there is no benchmarking model for Korea as far as social policies are concerned. It has no choice but to devise and implement appropriate policies on its own. In the coming several years before children of the baby boom generation reach childbearing age, Korea will have the last chance to put the brakes on its falling birth rate through the improvement of womenâ€™s working conditions and other policy measures. Placing top priority on this issue, the government should frankly disclose social policy portfolios that reflect demographic changes as well as their enforcement costs. Such an approach, if successful, can help Korea cope with global economic crisis by expanding domestic demand. The Korean economy has grown so big and mature that it is difficult to resolve all its problems simply by means of export-led growth. Korea has already entered the path to gradually improving its gross national happiness index by drastically overhauling its social policies on the basis of a society-wide consensus, instead of simple mental rearmament or escapism. [Chosun Ilbo, December 6, 2011]
Korea a Role Model in Donating Vaccines for Poorest Countries
Seth Berkley CEO Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
Starting on November 29, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness was held for three days in Busan, Korea. It was a particularly meaningful forum since Korea is the first and only country that has been successfully transformed from one of the poorest countries who was heavily dependent on aid from abroad to a donor country. At the bottom of the miraculous growth that Korean has achieved are the baby boomers born during the 1950s and 1960s. Those babies had grown healthy to become the main driver behind such wonderful transformation of their country. If they had not received assistance and support on time and left abandoned in hunger and poverty, Korea could not have been able to rise to become one of the worldâ€™s major economies.
This testified to the fact that we should protect the young generation beyond the limit of time and national boundaries. It is only when they grow happy and healthy that they can sever the chain of poverty and hunger. The Korean miracle is a good model to show where assistance should go in the future. Helping the children in severely poor countries in ways they can grow healthy is like laying the foundation on which these countries can stand on their own feet liberating themselves from the yoke of poverty and hunger. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), for which I serve as CEO, was established in 2000 as a global health alliance with the purpose of increasing access to immunization in the poorest countries using the funds received from governments and private sector donors around the world. With the funds that GAVI has raised, more than 326 million children have been immunized over the past 10 years and more than 5.5 million infant deaths have been averted. For example, in Kenya where more than half of its population lives on less than one dollar per day, the vaccination rate for children was just 47 percent in 2008 but it rose to reach 79 percent in 2010. It was possible thanks to cooperation between the public and private sectors across national boundaries. GAVIâ€™s first and only cooperative office in Asia opened in Korea in 2009. One and a half year later, Korea became Asiaâ€™s first GAVI donor country. Korea will be an important hub around which other Asian countries share the values of GAVI and participate in our activities to promote health and offer vaccination assistance in developing countries. I have high expectations for Korea. First, the head office of the International Vaccine Institute, which is dedicated to research on new vaccines to help people in developing countries, especially those protecting children from
epidemic diseases, is located in Seoul. Second, one of the pentavalent vaccines that GAVI mainly supplies to the poorest countries is produced by Berna Biotech Korea. This vaccine tremendously contributes to saving the lives of children as it can prevent five major diseases altogether. They are diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b (this causes meningitis), to all of which children are very vulnerable. As Bill Gates defined the supply of vaccines as the “greatest generosity that humans can share,” vaccination is what we can give to make the future of a child and of a country healthy and strong. I believe that vaccination is one of the basic rights of all children in the world. The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan and the installation of GAVI’s cooperative office in Seoul prove that Korea has become a role model as a donor of international assistance. I believe that Koreans must be proud of this. [JoongAng Ilbo, December 9, 2011]
- New Communication Culture and Democratic Community - To the Late Chairman Park Tai-joon: Weâ€™ll Miss Your Roaring over the Steel Mill - New Agenda of the Republic of Korea - Rule of Law Crumbles amid Ideological Conflict and Violence - Why Do You Ask People Their Age?
New Communication Culture and Democratic Community
Lee Hong-koo Advisor to the JoongAng Ilbo Former Prime Minister
Thanks to remarkable progress in communications technology, connections between individuals have become staggeringly fast and frequent. Yet, we wonder whether the new age of digital communication has pushed people into even greater isolation and solitude, even though ubiquitous smartphones and social networking services like Twitter and Facebook have expanded links among individuals and groups in terms of both quality and quantity, changing lifestyles and interpersonal relations. Even in cramped spaces like an elevator, people are often too busy using their mobile devices to exchange greetings with persons next to them. While communication with people far away has become faster and easier, we wonder if relations with those nearest to us â€“ family members, friends and neighbors â€“ have become estranged, if not lost, in the new environment.
But these worries are nothing new or particular. More than half a century ago, at the end of World War II, German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno and his Frankfurt School colleague Max Horkheimer expounded on a critical theme of “isolation by communication” in their book, “Dialectic of Enlightenment.” The book, released while they were living in exile in the United States, is one of the core texts of “critical theory,” which blamed the socio-psychological status quo for what the Frankfurt School considered the failure of the Enlightenment. In fact, cultural changes accompanying political and economic transitions should be addressed in the context of the history of civilization rather than analytical viewpoints of social science. Adorno and Horkheimer, who claimed truth can be best understood in historical context, characterized the progress of Western civilization – especially the rapid changes brought about in human livelihoods by technological development and mass production – as the inherent consequences of duality or dialectics of history. As for the dialectical progress of the Enlightenment that underlined the emancipation of human reason and freedom from feudal and religious suppression of the Middle Age, the two philosophers contended that it also bred a new type of autocratic oppression and inherent barbarism. They warned about the danger of power elite or an ideological group controlling and manipulating mass communication and science and technology to instigate uniformity and domination rather than social diversity and civil liberty. Their warning is quite pertinent to the contemporary history of the Korean nation in the 20th century and the current dilemma gripping the two Koreas. Upon liberation from Japanese colonial rule during the early half of the 20th
century, Korea was partitioned with the North adopting a Soviet-style communist system and the South emulating a democracy modeled after the United States and Britain. The contradictory governance systems, both established in 1948, remain intact today. It is a historical irony that North Korea, founded by Kim Il-sung on the strength of his anti-Japanese guerrilla activities, has turned into a hereditary dynasty patterned after Japan’s “sacred and inviolable” monarchy and pursued a “military first” policy as guiding ideology, both symbols of Japan’s past imperialism. What can explain, on the other hand, the political chaos facing South Korea today? The history of the Republic of Korea has been that of sustained endeavors for greater freedom and democracy. However, looking back on the democratization process over the past six decades, especially since the epochal pro-democracy movement in 1987, we come to ask if the nightmarish “dialectic of democratization” is at work. The
democratization might have bred anti-democratic elements by overlooking fundamental democratic norms and values that are essential in the process of building stable democratic institutions. Otherwise, one can hardly explain how the people’s distrust of political parties and National Assembly members they elected by themselves has reached such an extreme level as to disturb the nation’s representative democracy. Will the inflated communication capabilities of the digital age be able to contribute to building a new community as a solid basis for democratic institutions? Or will the new communication culture further intensify alienation of interpersonal relations, driving individuals into deeper isolation and solitude, and play the role of catalyst in splitting the people into rival groups, escalating social and political disintegration? Answers to these
questions will provide the key to fathoming the future of the Korean democracy. For all that, we should consider ourselves fortunate for sharing our community in this age, hoping that we can reawaken warm feelings in congenial dialogue among family members, friends and neighbors in this holiday season. [JoongAng Ilbo, December 26, 2011]
To the Late Chairman Park Tai-joon: Weâ€™ll Miss Your Roaring over the Steel Mill
Chung Joon-yang Chairman of POSCO
I boarded the plane to Thailand this morning with my heart remaining at your bedside in the hospital with deep worries. Then, right upon arriving in Thailand, I heard that you passed away. It felt like a bolt from the blue, indeed. After successfully launching Thailandâ€™s only stainless cold-rolled steel company, which is also the largest in Southeast Asia, I wanted to proudly report to you, Mr. Chairman, and hear praise from you. But I even failed to be with you in your last moments. When I joined POSCO in 1975, I had no knowledge of steel production. I had simply fallen in love with the great night view of the steel mill. Then, I found you repeatedly emphasizing to all employees, including new recruits at the bottom of the ladder like myself, that we should repay our fatherland by producing excellent steel products. That was the mission of the company,
which you taught us ceaselessly. Your words sounded like a cliché at first. But, as you reiterated those words with your piercing eyes and resolute expression, the message began taking an increasingly bigger place in a young steel man’s mind. You were there, even before the break of dawn, inspecting every nook and cranny of the mill, your commanding voice roaring and your vigorous footsteps resonating. I was both terrified and glad to hear those sounds. Now, where can I hear them again? I was once frustrated over slow promotion. At the time you visited our Europe office, where I was working at, and kindly asked me if I had any particular difficulties, thus comforting my desolate heart. Having lived abroad since I was young, I was really happy to see you there at an overseas office, as if I met my own father. Just this past March, in high spirits as usual, you encouraged me again, stroking my shoulder and saying, “You are doing well.” Listening to a great expert, who opened the nation’s first steel mill assembly line, talking in such a powerful voice to a junior more than 20 years younger than himself, I was relieved thinking that you would be with us for many more years. When you visited the Pohang steelworks last September, you almost brought us to tears by saying, “The applause for POSCO’s achievements ought to be given to all the POSCO people who have sweated day and night toward the goal of producing excellent steel products to repay the country.” You indeed touched us by giving credit to all our rank-and-file employees who have pushed through so many difficulties together. At the time, I again firmly believed that you would be with us, lighting our path and guiding us, for a long time.
Mr. Chairman! Can you see the pedestal for a Noble Prize winner on the campus of POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology) in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, which still remains empty? Your fervent aspiration may finally come true before too long. With you gone now, who would be there with us to place the statue of Korea’s first Noble laureate on the pedestal? When there still remain so many things that you should do to guide us and admonish us, did you have to leave us so abruptly because you exhausted yourself so harshly in your youth to serve the company and the country? Believing that I would be able to ask for your counsel anytime when the company faces a major problem, I fell short of preparing for your absence. Who would now help us overcome the many difficulties our company would face in the days ahead? When someone has lost his father, the grief he feels is compared to the “falling of the sky.” At Pohang and Gwangyang, all the employees of POSCO are now in deep sorrow with our hearts crumbling. But we try to comfort ourselves with the belief that, even though death has parted us physically, you will always stay in our hearts. No mighty force can ever take you away from our hearts. The task of securing the world’s best technology, which you aspired so ardently, is now within our sights. Investment in overseas raw material mines is proceeding step by step to reap significant results sooner or later. In spite of many shortcomings and inadequacies, we will try to accomplish one by one all the tasks you dreamed of. Please watch us achieving those tasks recalling the valuable teachings you left with us. Mr. Chairman! We are all so proud of you. But we can assume your life was
full of difficulties because you always put your company before yourself and your country before your family. Though ignorant and foolish, we will do our utmost to carry on with your noble intentions and not undermine your great accomplishments. So, please relieve yourself of all heavy burdens now. And please visit us at times on the lawn of Pohang steel mill, or the Baegundae pavilion at Gwangyang mill, or the library of POSTECH, as a breeze or as a rain. We will be always waiting for you there. [Chosun llbo, December 14, 2011]
New Agenda of the Republic of Korea
Chung Dae-wha Professor of Political Science Sangji University
Competition among peer groups of average ability won’t be of any help. A new store sign or a little more investment won’t improve things either. It is the time of historical transition with the tide of change surging fiercely. Our nation went through a series of changes – the Korean War in the 1950s, military dictatorship in the 1960s and democratization movement in the 1980s. At each phase we created a different system, that is, anti-communism, military regime and democratic institution. Currently we live under a democratic system introduced in 1987, advancing toward a new phase beyond democratization. After 1987 the military returned to the barracks and democracy became a routine. This is an irreversible situation. Yet, the average score on happiness index is not so high.
The nation has achieved rapid economic growth, but the benefits of growth are overly concentrated in the privileged classes with the majority of the people groaning under “new poverty.” Like democracy, economic growth has failed to bring happiness to people. We have achieved both democratization and economic growth. Then, why do we still struggle to maintain our livelihoods? When times have changed, so should the question. Democracy is the basal condition and economic growth rate means little more than statistical figures. The economic monopolization by the chaebol, or large conglomerates, the collapse of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the impoverishment of rural and agricultural communities are other faces of democratization and economic growth. And amongst them, dire issues such as youth unemployment, joblessness, non-regular workers, low birth rates, super-aging society, problems of childcare and education, housing, spread of poverty and absence of welfare, and environmental destruction are simply left untouched. Therefore, the question is not about democracy or economic growth but the quality of life. So let’s ask, “Are you happy?” Twenty percent of Koreans answered “yes” just 10 years ago, when Korea was a 20/80 society. Now it has degenerated into a 1/99 society, in which only 1 percent is happy and 99 percent are unhappy. Then, is the 1 percent genuinely happy? The people should find it difficult to support a democracy that cannot bring happiness to the majority of the public or economic growth that forces people to suffer. Here lies the reason why politics is distrusted and political parties are detested. Politicians are arguing over irrelevant things while the people are suffering. This is the lamentable reality of the Republic of Korea and its democracy today. An era of transition calls for emancipation, which in turn demands
imagination. Our era needs the emancipation of small- and medium-sized enterprises from the oppression of chaebol; the emancipation of the selfemployed owners of small businesses, who are endlessly increasing in number as they have no other options; the emancipation of young women, who are forced to have fewer children; the emancipation of education, which leads to youth unemployment and underpaid jobs; and the emancipation of the exploitive employment structure that is driving all workers into non-regular jobs. A transition in thinking should precede emancipation. Whatâ€™s needed is a transition to the human-oriented thinking that does not regard humans as merchandise but respect their dignity and that helps humans coexist with nature as a part of it. We are not living in an era of division between democracy and autocracy but in a new era in which the line is drawn between those who are happy and those who are not. Our era requires the theory of happiness beyond that of democracy. While we struggled for democracy at the risk of our lives in the past, we now have to fight for our lives so that we can live decently and happily. Therefore, the people find themselves estranged from political reform for ambiguous objectives that will merely serve the interests of politicians and their parties, and power transition simply accompanied by empty rhetoric but no substantial policy change to improve popular livelihoods. Politics is only a tool and change of power nothing but a process. The era of transition we are confronting demands a revolution of hope to create a world in which people can live like humans, not a world which turns people into economic slaves and tools for economic growth. Then, how can we make politics contribute to such a revolution? The answer should come from those outside the political circles. It is because the people are the masters of the Republic of Korea and all power comes from the people. The people should be able to save Korean politics, the Republic of Korea, and themselves. [Kyunghyang Daily News, December 17, 2011]
Rule of Law Crumbles amid Ideological Conflict and Violence
Ha Chang-woo Lawyer
History will remember November 22, 2011 as a day when the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea ratified the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement amid a tear gas attack. On this day the opposition lawmaker Kim Sun-dong of the Democratic Labor Party detonated a tear gas grenade in the main hall of the National Assembly to block the ratification vote. It was the most dangerous act of violence ever committed in the parliament building. Tear gas was originally developed for military purposes and was used by the police to suppress anti-government demonstrations under the past dictatorial regimes. Since Kimâ€™s action is not subject to parliamentary immunity, he may face punishment on five charges under the Criminal Code and the National Assembly Act.
Committing an unlawful act inside the National Assembly chambers, where the people’s representatives make laws to punish unlawful behavior, poses a serious threat to parliamentary democracy. However, neither the speaker of the National Assembly nor any lawmaker took legal action against Rept. Kim. Hence a civic group reported him to the police. Among the worst things that can happen in court proceedings is an expression of prejudice or ideology by the judge. A judge’s preconception is rigidly guarded against because it can lead to a conclusion before the law and evidence are applied. But even more dreaded is an expression of ideology by the judge. Prejudice may differ from one case to another, but an ideology deriving from a judge’s political creed can affect all cases. If a judge makes a ruling based on his legal theory that playing “flower cards” (hwatu) is gambling because the result depends on luck but playing golf for money is not gambling because the score is determined by the player’s skill, it is an expression of prejudice. However, when a left-leaning judge put aside legal principles and found Rep. Kang Ki-gap, who destroyed property of the National Assembly at its secretary-general’s office to protest the passage of the revised Media Law, not guilty of violence because “Kang committed violence in a state of extreme excitement,” it was an expression of ideology. A ruling made with prejudice invites criticism but a ruling displaying ideology spawns distrust. Every citizen has the freedom of speech. But the Constitution requires political neutrality of public servants as a rational restriction on the right to freedom of expression. Judges can’t enjoy unlimited freedom of expression because they are public servants. However, a senior judge at a regional court, who was dissatisfied with the National Assembly’s forcible passage of the Korea-U.S. FTA, wrote on Facebook that “I won’t forget this day, November 22, 2011,
when the president and trade officials, who are pro-American to the bone, betrayed working-class people and national economy.” This posting is problematic not because the writer is a left-leaning judge and executive member of the Society for Research on Our Law (Uri beop yeongu hoe), a progressive group of judges, but because he displayed his strong political ideology beyond the limits of freedom of expression that are allowed to a judge in his private domain. Ideology begets ideology. Another judge came forward to defend him, saying, “Conservative judges, you all resign! Then, I will resign, too, without any regret!” This judge is no different in displaying his ideology. If these antiAmerican judges take cases related to trade with the United States, they won’t be able to overcome the walls of distrust whatever decisions they make. Assemblies and rallies should be peaceful, non-violent and unarmed. Therefore, the laws governing assemblies and rallies prohibit all gatherings that are obvious to cause direct threats to public peace and order, such as assault, blackmail, damage and arson. At night on November 26, a group of demonstrators, while holding an illegal rally at Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, to demand the nullification of the Korea-U.S. FTA ratification, beat the head of Jongno Police Station who was on his way to ask opposition party lawmakers to help dismiss the rally. Those accused claim that the police provoked violence. However, violent rallies can’t be justified in any event. Violence is a very dangerous means of threatening the rule of law. The rule of law in the Republic of Korea is being shaken by ideology and violence in all three branches of government. If unlawful acts are covered up under the influence of populism and paternalism, it will instigate more unlawful acts. It is now more important than ever to firmly establish the rule of law. [Hankook Ilbo, December 1, 2011]
Why Do You Ask People Their Age?
Lee Na-ri Deputy Economy Desk Editor The JoongAng Ilbo
I interview foreigners from time to time. At the end of each interview, I invariably have to throw an embarrassing question: “Excuse me. May I ask you how old you are?” I assume few of my foreign interviewees had been asked this question. Probably they had never asked a stranger such a question either. People rarely ask others their age these days in other Asian countries, not to mention in the West. But I must ask this question at every interview. The majority of Korean media outlets make it a rule to reveal the age of “important figures.” Age is essential biographical information in Korea. Most Koreans believe age tells many things about an individual, including experience, knowledge, inclinations and personality. As if there is a “standard timetable of life by age,” they pay extraordinary attention to individuals who have achieved something
too late or too early. A young man’s age has made headlines all over the media in recent days. He is Kim Jong-un, the son and heir of Kim Jong-il, the deceased chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission. Kim Jong-un, who has risen rapidly as North Korea’s top leader following his father’s death, is said to be 27 years, or maybe 29 years, old. Naturally, concerns have mounted that this new leader of the North, due to his young age and limited experience, may bring about huge confusion to the Korean peninsula. Some news commentaries have caused worries of different dimensions as they rely too heavily on the stereotypical equation of “young age = novice = green hand.” Kim Moon-soo, governor of Gyeonggi Province, said sarcastically that “it is an absurd comedy of the 21st century that the world will have to kowtow to a young, inexperienced man in his twenties.” A local newspaper predicted that there will unlikely be an inter-Korean summit during the incumbent administration of President Lee Myung-back, quoting a concerned official saying, “It’s kind of hard to imagine [President Lee who’s 40 years older] discussing the future of the Korean peninsula with a 29 year old.” It can’t be said he is wrong. Nonetheless, President Lee’s counterpart is the new head of a state that is posing the greatest security threat to the Republic of Korea. With very little known about his ability and character, the young man is supported by a powerful elite group with vested rights. This means we might pay dearly for taking him lightly. The traps are all around to induce misjudgment concerning age. Mr. A was promoted to an executive manager at a major subsidiary of SK Group at the age of 40. For some years thereafter he often said mournfully that he wished he could “get old fast,” fretting over his hair that did not turn gray. “I have too
much difficulty in and outside of my company because of my young age and baby face,” he said. He was experiencing the so-called “paradox of early success.” In contrast, job seekers are nervous that they might be victimized by the age limits tacitly imposed on new recruits by Korean companies. Both represent examples of damage incurred by the predominant prejudice and hasty generalization concerning age in our society. Then, what about the unnecessary waste of energy? Young collegians are even found arguing over who is senior in their class, comparing birth dates. As the saying goes, there is so much distortion in hierarchy that it’s not easy to “control the traffic.” In a society where age forestalls any challenge, it is not easy to have open debates, draw a line between public and private matters, or make objective evaluation. The deep-rooted practice of regarding age as primary biographical information of
administration and chain of command. Many attribute these problems to the traditional Confucian culture. However, the Confucian-initiated nobility of the Joseon Dynasty placed tremendous value in sharing friendship and knowledge beyond age barriers. For example, the two famous scholar-officials, Yi Hang-bok (1556-1618, courtesy name Oseong) and Yi Deok-hyeong (1561-1613, Haneum), maintained their renowned friendship throughout their lives in spite of five-year difference in their age. They cherished their friendship on equal terms, calling each other by their courtesy name. Kim Si-seup (1435-1493, pen name Maewoldang), a genius writer and thinker, shared a graceful and heart-rending friendship with Nam Hyo-on (1454-1492, Chugang) beyond their 19-year age gap, drawing admiration from posterity through the generations.
In this regard, it should be more reasonable to say that the current seniorityoriented culture has taken root since the modern period. The military culture certainly exerted a great influence. The popular slang jjambap, which means “age” or “experience,” originally referred to “military meal.” The word achieved an additional connotation of “group hierarchy” as the Korean society became fiercely competitive in recent years. Some might find this kind of debate uncomfortable. They say, “Let’s see how you would feel turning 50 or 60.” In that sense, they will benefit even more from this debate. Young or old, everyone suffers from the shackles of age. Social discrimination against the aged aside, those who don’t give up demanding respect for their old age will find it harder to get along with their family and society. A post-retirement job is a prerequisite in this age of centenarians. You must learn from young people and start out again at the bottom. How about trying not to count age from now on? Simply by breaking your habit of pairing age with status, you will gain a clearer view of the world as well as more choices in your life. The newspapers would do well also to stop putting people’s age next to their names. [December 28, 2011]
- Korea’s Intangible Heritage for Humanity - ‘Yoko’s Story’ and the Truth about Korea - Solitary Historian Once Scorned by Her Motherland - Winter Solstice and Christmas - Nurturing Hallyu through Copyright Protection
Koreaâ€™s Intangible Heritage for Humanity
Hwang Rushi Professor of Media Literature Kwandong University
Everyone has a memorable moment that cannot be forgotten. For me, a resident of Gangneung, November 25, 2005 was the once-in-a-lifetime moment. On that day, UNESCO in Paris decided to place the Dano Festival of Gangneung on the roster of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. My heart felt like it was bursting with joy as a local festival of my hometown was recognized as a valuable cultural asset worthy of universal efforts to be widely enjoyed and preserved by people around the world. I was also overwhelmed that all the hard work I had done for over three years, preparing documents and a video material for submission to UNESCO, yielded fruit at last. That night numerous people gathered on the front yard of the city hall to celebrate the event. Bonfires were made and people drank the traditional rice wine makgeolli with buckwheat pancakes, while others played
the jing (gong), janggu (hourglass-shaped drum) and kkwaenggwari (small gong) loudly. In the chilly night air our hearts glowed in flames. Intoxicated by drinks and the millennium-old festival, people danced together ecstatically. Whether in fixed style or impromptu, they danced in a carefree mood to the piercing notes of metal percussions. I also danced excitedly until my feet felt numb. I just felt excited and the memory of that night still brings a smile to my face. After all, the Gangneung Dano Festival is all about communal enjoyment and exhilaration. I have spent nearly 30 years studying the festival, but it seemed I discovered the true essence of the festival for the first time on that day. At the least, I experienced the inherent ecstasy of Dano with my body for the first time during the very night after the festival became a UNESCO heritage asset. On November 28, 2011, three Korean cultural assets â€“ tightrope walking (jultagi), the fine ramie (mosi) weaving of Hansan and the traditional martial art taekkyeon â€“ made it to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural heritage of Humanity. UNESCO has actually made far more efforts to preserve tangible cultural properties, including Greek temples, Italian amphitheaters, and Roman relics scattered around the world. The intangible cultural heritage, which is drawing attention in recent years, involves living traditions handed down from people to people. People have created and enjoyed culture and the arts everywhere they have lived. During the past one century or so, however, the ethnic minority culture of small nations have been brutally destroyed and annihilated as the Western powers spread their culture throughout the world. Intangible culture is highly fragile, whereas historical sites remain intact where they have been unless they come under military attacks or natural disasters. Once the human-to-human
chain of transmission is broken, the dances, dramas and mythologies handed down in small villages of India, Mongolia and Africa will disappear for good from human history. UNESCO began documenting the intangible cultural assets and creating their list in 2001, in order to protect the cultural diversity of humanity and guarantee sustainable development through the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage from the danger of extinction in the face of the predominant influence of modern civilization. Korea successfully pushed for the inscription of the royal ancestral rites (Jongmyo jerye) and the accompanying ritual music of the Joseon Dynasty in 2001; the pansori epic chants in 2003; and the Dano Festival of Gangneung in 2005. In the following years, with the requirements for inscription loosened a bit, Korea added eight more items: the Circle Dance Ganggangsullae, Jeju Rites for the Goddess of Wind (Chilmeoridang yeongdeung gut), Rites of Vulture Peak (Yeongsanjae), Namsadang Vagabond Clowns’ Play, Dance of Cheoyong (Cheoyongmu), Lyric Song Cycles (gagok), Master Carpenter (daemokjang), and Falconry (mae sanyang). Thanks to the three more additions last month, Korea is poised to retain its leadership in intangible cultural heritage along with Japan and China. But the question remains: How much do we know about our own cultural assets and enjoy them as part of our everyday lives? The pertinent UNESCO convention clarifies that a nominee for inscription should be a living tradition. How many of the 14 Korean items listed as the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage can be confidently declared to be “alive and active” in today’s Korean life? All are barely so. The tightrope walking attracted renewed attention after it was featured in the
movie “The King and the Clown.” As depicted in the film, the Korean traditional tightrope walking is not a simple form of acrobatic entertainment but functioned as an arena of popular communication where common people expressed their opinions and ideas. The movie’s lead character, Jangsaeng, is a professional tightrope walker; he criticizes the king, Yeonsan, while straddling his rope suspended high over the palace grounds, which enthralled the audience. That was all. This folk performing art remains as alienated as ever from Korean society. The traditional martial art taekkyeon is not even included in the annual National Sports Festival. A handful of masters barely keep it alive. Mosi is a cool summer fabric which looks nice. But it is too expensive and difficult to handle, so has long been out of reach for the majority of Koreans. If so, why in the world do we devote so much attention and energy to the UNESCO heritage list? Is this for showing off our national competitiveness through traditional culture at a time when culture wars are waged around the world? Some people say Korean martial art has outsmarted its Chinese counterpart as taekkyeon was included in the UNESCO’s coveted list while China’s kung fu was not. Are we secretly hoping that Hollywood will produce “Taekkyeon Tiger” instead of “Kung Fu Panda”? Six years have passed since the Dano Festival of Gangneung obtained UNESCO inscription. But the festival has hardly changed. On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people continue to invoke the mountain spirits from Daegwallyeong pass, conduct the festival and play together excitedly. The festival has been held like that for a thousand years. Its roots are too deep to be affected by any popular recognition, not even a UNESCO title. This is the reason I love this festival. Cherishing culture and becoming its master is the very way to safeguard tradition, which is also the objective of UNESCO. [Dong-a Ilbo, December 3, 2011]
‘Yoko’s Story’ and the Truth about Korea
Park Kang-ho Consul General Korean Consulate General in Boston
The still ongoing controversy over “So Far From the Bamboo Grove” – translated as simply “Yoko’s Story” in Korean – has gotten Boston’s Korean parents into frenzy to “teach” elementary and middle school teachers the truth about Korea. About five years ago, the semi-autobiographical novel by Japanese American writer Yoko Kawashima Watkins shook up the Korean society of Greater Boston with its portrayal of Koreans as antagonists and the Japanese as victims seen in the eyes of a Japanese girl traveling through the peninsula to be repatriated back to Japan at the end of World War II. The story cannot be farther from the truth of what Koreans bore under almost 40 years of Japanese colonial rule.
The second-generation Korean Americans, seeing that the distorted narrative was being used as textbooks in some of the primary and middle schools in America, publicly campaigned to remove it from school reading lists. Many of the schools have done just that, but including the book is largely up to the schools and teachers to decide as county or state recommendations are unbinding in nature. Seeing some of the schools persist in using the book despite the outrage, Korean parents decided that raising the issue to their community schools and education authorities is not enough. As a fundamental solution, they are searching for ways to offer a better grasp of Korean history to children. But to do that, the teachers must be educated first, as it is owing to their unfamiliarity with Korean culture that they fail to see the harm in Watkins’ book. In 2009, the parents dipped into their own pockets to fund a seminar – the first of its kind – on the history and culture of Korea for school teachers in the Boston area. The following year, they hosted a research workshop on Korean studies funded by the Korea Foundation. The workshop was a huge success. The reviews were positive and some 50 teachers applied for this year’s program. Only 30 will be participating because of budgetary constraints but both the foundation and the parents are hoping to invite more next year. The workshop curriculum involved Korean history, culture, arts and the education system, including sessions on farmers’ band music (pungmul) and classical three-line verse (sijo). The parents also are working on a visit to Korea for American teachers. In June, the Korean parents’ associations at schools in the Greater Boston area held a fund-raiser where they sold Korean food such as gimbap (steamed rice rolled in dried seaweed with seasoned vegetables) and japchae (glass noodles boiled and then stir-fried with seasoned vegetables and meat), along with
stationery and accessories to help purchase Korea-bound plane tickets. In Korea, the teachers will be given a week to tour schools and experience local culture. The parents said they devised the trip because they felt Korea was largely unknown to most American teachers despite the large number of Korean students. Getting familiar with Korea and its culture would help the teachers interact with Korean students. There may also be positive spillover effects as the teachers would spread the word on what they learned and saw. The parents reasoned that once they start to regard Korea in a new light, the teachers are bound to change their attitudes towards Korean students. Korean young adults also are actively participating. Recently, in Boston, there was a ceremony to launch a one-year promotion campaign for Korea by young volunteers. They will collect Korean books and cultural documents to donate to schools or public libraries in America. They also will rewrite Korean fairy tales such as “Heungbu and Nolbu” (a tale of a greedy man and his kindhearted younger brother) and “Kongji and Patji” (a tale of a virtuous maiden and her evil step family) into English to donate them to their schools or community libraries. These efforts are significant in that young overseas Koreans are eagerly promoting their homeland. I am deeply moved by the warm patriotism I have witnessed in the hearts of our parents and children, but also ashamed that I cannot do more. China and Japan currently operate programs for inviting American teachers every year but Korea still is short on them. The Consulate General is working alongside the Korean community to invite more teachers. We also continue to offer our utmost support to campaigns for promoting the real Korea to American communities. [Munhwa Ilbo, December 20, 2011]
Solitary Historian Once Scorned by Her Motherland
Yoo Han-tae Professor of Gestalt Psychology College of Fine Arts Sookmyung Womenâ€™s University
On November 30, the remains of the late Dr. Park Byeong-seon (Park Byengsen) made their journey home. Park was a Korean historian who lived in France, setting the stage for retrieving ancient Korean texts such as the Jiki, an anthology of Zen Buddhism recognized as the worldâ€™s oldest book printed with movable metal type; and the uigwe, the royal protocols of the Joseon Dynasty, which were taken by French sailors from a royal library on Ganghwa Island in the late 19th century. I am overwhelmed with a mixture of gratification and anger when reminded of the exceptional example this woman set many miles away from home despite being spurned by her own government. Korean government officials turned a deaf ear to Dr. Park, who risked losing her job as a librarian at the National
Library of France to beseech them to get back the palace records. She was eventually dismissed for “leaking” confidential information. We cannot help question the Korean officials’ judgment and lament their bureaucratic ignorance of cultural heritage. Scorned at home and dismissed in France, Park was recognized by none other than Jack Lang, former culture minister of France and a current member of the French National Assembly, who had assisted Korea in the repatriation of the valuable texts. At her funeral held at the Korean Cultural Center in Paris, Lang paid his deepest respects, acknowledging the late Park as a “token of the shining friendship between the two nations” and of being “culturally refined and exceptionally erudite.” Park turned an unwavering sense of academic obligation into heartfelt patriotism, churning out books such as “Byeongin yangyo” (on the 1866 French invasion of Korea) and “History of Korea.” She devoted her entire life to claiming what is rightfully ours. But it was a lonely crusade. Upon returning to Paris after a surgery for colorectal cancer in January last year – funded by Koreans who finally recognized her worth – Park returned to her life’s work, this time to write the sequel to her book on the 19th-century French invasion. Her dying wish before she passed away on November 23 was for someone to finish the volume. It is with a heavy heart that we lay her to rest. As the big-hearted mother of Jikji, Park stayed true to its essence – “truth that sets the mind right” – by teaching us the importance of claiming what is ours. It is now up to the future generations to succeed her spirit and work. The task will undoubtedly be a difficult one in a country where one faces a lonely campaign when pursuing lost national treasures. There is definitely something very wrong with a country that disregards patriotism and refuses to be its patron. True patriots are
seldom bred in such territory. Interviews of the late Dr. Park reflect our sad reality. She said the rejections and disdain from the Korean government and scholars were what she found most difficult to handle. Scholars demanded to know how she expected to succeed when noted bibliographers of her homeland had failed. The government was worse. When she first raised the issue of retrieving the Joseon royal texts, the Foreign Ministry insisted she drop the subject for fear of fraying its relations with France. We can only imagine how devastating it must have been for Park. The unfortunate combination of an unsupportive government filled with lackadaisical bureaucrats and the hypocrisy of the Korean academia was likely more hurtful to Park than the French who fired her. It is also proof that Korea is still steeped in toadyism and continues to fawn over what its neighbors have while slighting its own. Despite it all, Park persevered and behaved in a manner comparable to another truly great Korean, independence activist An Jung-geun. Pressed by mounting calls to show its appreciation, the government belatedly honored Park with a medal. But the gesture is hardly a silver bullet. The government must now fulfill her last wishes, as it is the only way to encourage others who are silently playing their part. Her patriotism was never a form of exhibitionism, but a natural and unyielding instinct. It is now up to the government to rekindle it in the hearts of others, starting by showing more consideration and appreciation. In this sense, it was only proper to lay the historian to rest at the National Cemetery. It is Koreaâ€™s duty to honor her patriotic spirit and show its support so others can willingly follow in her footsteps.
It is impossible to expect someone else to claim for you what is yours while you sit by and watch. Once you lose sight of what is rightfully yours, consider it lost forever. Bear in mind that descendants who forget the spirit of their ancestors are that much closer to losing their own souls and nation. This is the priceless lesson of world history that cultural artifacts are teaching us. [Munhwa Ilbo, December 5, 2011]
Winter Solstice and Christmas
Jeong Jin-hong Editorial Writer The JoongAng Ilbo
The morning before last, Monk Beopyeol at the Eundeok Cultural Center of the Won Buddhism called me. He invited me to have red bean porridge (patjuk) together, saying it was made for dongji, the winter solstice, which fell on the day. I replied I would drop by in late afternoon and visited him with a few friends. When we entered the center facing the Secret Garden of Changdeok Palace, Director Lee Seon-jong welcomed us warmly. Sitting around a table, we ate the red bean porridge along with white radish kimchi (dongchimi). Our ancestors cooked and ate the red bean porridge on the winter solstice because they believed the red beans had the power to chase away evil spirits. The red color of the bean was regarded to symbolize the positive energy, yang, and effective in driving out the dark energy, yin, representing evil spirits. This age-
old folk custom still remains alive in our days. The winter solstice with the shortest day and the longest night of the year is a unique solar term. The traditional 24 solar terms are based on lunar phases, but the winter solstice is the only lunisolar “fusion term” combining the lunar calendar with the phase of the solar cycles. Moreover, since the winter solstice falls on the day when the sun travels the Tropic of Capricorn lying at 23.5 degrees south of the equator, it invariably falls on December 22 or 23 by the solar calendar, but in the lunar calendar the day is not regular. Descriptions of the winter solstice depend on when it falls on the lunar calendar. It is called “ae-dongji” (young winter solstice) when it falls in early November by the lunar calendar; “jung-dongji” (mid winter solstice) when falling around mid-November; and “no-dongji” (old winter solstice) when falling around the end of November. The Zhou Dynasty, which set standards for seasonal subdivisions and ritual etiquette, officially adopted the winter solstice as New Year’s Day. The Xuanming Calendar used during the Tang also used the winter solstice to mark the beginning of the year. In Korea, this calendar, called Seonmyeongnyeok, was used until the Goryeo period. Koreans celebrated the New Year on the winter solstice until 1309, the year King Chungseon was reinstated to the throne, when Goryeo switched to the Shoushi Calendar of the Yuan Dynasty. Hence the old sayings, “Past the winter solstice you are one year older” or “Eat the red bean porridge on the winter solstice and you are really one year older.” In the “I Ching,” or the “Classic of Changes,” the 11th month of the lunar year, represented by the fu gua, meaning “return,” was regarded as the beginning of a year. Each of the 64 hexagrams (gua) described in the “I Ching” is a figure composed of six stacked horizontal lines (yao), either solid or broken with a
gap in the center, symbolizing yang and yin, respectively. The fu gua has one solid line at the bottom and five broken lines on top, signifying light buried deep in darkness. It has the message of hope that light will start stirring to reveal itself through darkness. The same is true of the winter solstice. Ancient Romans, who worshipped the sun god under the influence of the Persian Mithraic tradition, celebrated the winter solstice in late December every year. In particular, the Romans believed the sun was reborn on December 25, three days after the winter solstice. But as Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, the birthday of Jesus Christ, also regarded as “light,” replaced the celebration of the sun god’s rebirth. It is a widely known fact that the actual birthday of Jesus Christ as a historical figure does not coincide with Christmas. However, it indeed was an ingenious match; it was a compromise beneficial to the Romans as well as Christians because the Romans could continue to celebrate the day while Christians grasped an opportunity to penetrate into pagan communities. We are now groping in darkness, which is so deep that the future remains out of sight. But we must not collapse and give up here. As Christmas comes with its light only after the winter solstice, we must first endure the year’s longest night. When this darkness finally reaches its peak and ceases to be, we know that light will surely take its place to brighten our lives Although it is not Christ’s birthday but the day when ancient Romans celebrated the rebirth of their sun god, Christmas has profound meaning and significance beyond the holiday of a specific religion in that it brings light to us at the end of a long darkness so we can start anew again with fresh hopes. Merry Christmas^^! [December 24, 2011]
Nurturing Hallyu through Copyright Protection
Choi Kwang-sik Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism
2011 is now drawing to a close. A quick review of the year brings to mind the K-pop boom in Paris and Shin Kyung-sook’s novel “Please, Look After Mom” which brought home the value of maternal love to American readers. There is no doubt that Korean pop musicians and artists, armed with creativity and passion, achieved admirable feats. Since it’s my job to lead our country’s cultural policies, however, I have tried to identify the underlying factor that has made such a wonderful year for Korean culture. My view is that copyrights were the driving force that has allowed Korean cultural content to make inroads to global markets. Both live music performances and the act of writing a novel should be duly rewarded in order to get the creators’ passion maximized. And the very reward comes from a copyright.
Letâ€™s take a look at the economic value of the Korean Wave, or hallyu. According to the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, the Korean Wave has so far generated economic value amounting to 5 trillion won. If the value added inducement effects are included, pop cultural products have certainly emerged as a new growth engine with a huge potential. Therefore, the nation needs a reasonable infrastructure in which original and creative products are duly recognized and properly rewarded. Globalization is not enough; a right that is not protected at home is unlikely to be protected overseas. In 2012, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is scheduled to go into effect, heralding a significant change in the copyright system. The forthcoming modifications in copyright regulations, I believe, will help tighten the loose ends in Koreaâ€™s legal and other related systems in accordance with the global trends, paving the way for the full-fledged growth of the Korean Wave and the countryâ€™s overall culture industry. Some people have raised concerns that the KORUS FTA may solidify the rights of copyright holders unilaterally, thereby dampening the use of copyrighted materials by Korean people. But the claim that the revision of the copyright law will affect the everyday life of Koreans negatively is far removed from the facts. Of course, once the new system is introduced, we might need some training period to adapt to the new rules by changing our old habits and way of thinking. Breaking from familiar things is nothing if not frustrating. But it should be remembered that, as with other changes, the planned switch to a new copyright system would mark a new turning point for growth.
What will the new copyright system bring to Korean youth? Already, a variety of creative activities are staged and implemented in an era of digital revolution that places prime importance on creativity. A number of “prosumers” brandishing fresh ideas, passion and expert-level ingenuity are uploading their user-created content on the Web, sharing their work with others. Korea’s cultural power will become stronger when prosumers’ fair and easy use of copyrighted materials for creative and productive purposes is guaranteed and promoted. As such, copyrighted materials should be effectively protected while the fair use of such materials is guaranteed under the new copyright system. All of this is intended to provide due rewards to those who spend countless hours and devote their passion to produce original work. The Korean Wave and the country’s content industry would then thrive and advance to a higher level, creating jobs in a sustainable way. This is our vision of the future society that will serve Korean youth. The copyright system is a yardstick that measures the cultural level of a country. It is high time for us to adapt actively to the social change stemming from the KORUS FTA and join forces to protect copyrighted materials and their creators so that people can enjoy such content fairly and with ease. Korea’s copyright system has a trait of jogakbo, a traditional patchwork that is sewn together with a variety of fragmented cloths and usually used to cover a food table or wrap a gift: copyright holders, users and the industry have different colors and yet create a unified aesthetic. The upcoming changes will set a new milestone for copyright policies, which will help Koreans “review the old and create the new.” [Maeil Business Newspaper, December 28, 2011]
- North Korea-China Treaty of Friendship: New Implications and Current Bilateral Relations - The Kim Jong-un Risk and the Korean Peninsula - Setting the Agenda for the Success of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul - Koreaâ€™s Top Ten Hits of 2011
North Korea-China Treaty of Friendship: New Implications and Current Bilateral Relations Lee Sang-sook Visiting Professor Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security
I. Introduction The year 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between North Korea and China. In July 2011, Chinese Deputy Premier Zhang Dejiang visited Pyongyang to represent Beijing in celebrations of the treaty signed on July 11, 1961. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Chinese President Hu Jintao exchanged congratulatory cables on the anniversary. The amity pact embodies the long history of ties between the two neighboring countries and is the linchpin to their bilateral relations. The clause on “immediate intervention” in the treaty requires either country to come to the aid of the other in the event of external aggression, thereby creating a military alliance between the two nations. Nowadays, the two countries refrain from Cold War-era rhetoric that proclaimed they were “blood-tied allies.” Instead, they now describe their relations as “traditional friendly ties.” Some Chinese pundits even assert that the treaty has virtually become ineffective. In a significant remark made in 2009, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Sino-North Korean bilateral relations were the kind existing between any “two normal states.” Meanwhile, North Korea no longer mentioned “military alliance” with China, claiming that it was an independent state in terms of national security.
In recent years, China has not exported military equipment to North Korea, nor has it conducted joint military exercises or exchanged military intelligence with North Korea. This led some analysts to take the extreme position of denying the existence of alliance as they noted the absence of routine events of military cooperation between the two states. Despite these peculiarities, neither country has suggested the need to revise or repeal the friendship treaty. On its half centennial, it is important for the security of the Korean peninsula and the Northeast Asian region to review what significance the treaty has on the present bilateral relations between the two communist states. The treaty created the framework for a military alliance, but the contents of the alliance have changed since the end of the Cold War. Hence there is the need to scrutinize the nature and legal validity of the pact. Military tension between South and North Korea remains high because of the North’s sinking of the South Korean Navy patrol craft Cheonan and artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in 2010. Therefore, further strengthening of ties between Pyongyang and Beijing will affect the overall security situation on the Korean peninsula. The perennial economic difficulties of the North have worsened in the face of the South’s refusal to provide aid, but China’s generous expansion of economic cooperation has helped ease the North’s adversity. In October 2011, China’s Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is likely to be named the next premier, visited both Pyongyang and Seoul to discuss the resumption of the six-party talks on denuclearizing the North and other matters of common concern. This demonstrated Beijing’s intent to solidify cooperation with the next generation of the North Korean leadership just as Vice President Xi Jinping did when he visited Pyongyang in 2008.
The current interaction can be seen as moves to revitalize the past security alliance. In this regard, it is necessary to analyze the practical validity of the friendship treaty, particularly the “immediate intervention” clause of Article 2, as well as the possibility of expanding security cooperation under the provisions of the existing treaty. This study is primarily aimed at analyzing the significance of the ongoing efforts of North Korea and China to strengthen cooperative relations under the framework of the amity treaty. Debates on the validity of the pact have either ignored the background to forming the treaty or disregarded the present situational factors. Therefore, it is necessary to review the significance of the treaty in defining the present bilateral relations, while recounting the circumstances of writing the treaty in light of the security threats confronted by the two allies after the 1950-53 Korean War.
II. The Nature of the North Korea-China Friendship Treaty 1. Significance of the Treaty The North Korea-China Friendship Treaty of 1961 put the two countries into a typical asymmetric security alliance based on a preset system of cooperation. In an asymmetric security alliance between large and small countries, the stronger side provides security assistance for the weaker party while the weaker side accepts restrictions to its independent military activities. An asymmetric alliance often ignites clashes of interests; the stronger country expects deference from its weaker ally but the latter seeks “autonomy” in order to pursue its interests. In this situation, the superior state is concerned that its
control may be reduced if the weaker party teams up with another state or tries to bolster defense capabilities on its own. Therefore, an asymmetric alliance leads to asymmetric conflict. Although China and North Korea formalized their security alliance in the 1961 treaty, their relations were already tantamount to an alliance during the Korean War. The two countries practically entered into a military alliance when China intervened in the war to help North Korea in 1950, just one year after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Even after the signing of an armistice agreement in 1953, the Chinese army units, which had fought in the war, remained in the North until 1958. After a complete troop withdrawal, China still continued to provide security alliance while the two countries increased cooperation in science and technology. 2. Causes of the Treaty External and internal threats aroused the desire for the amity treaty. China, which had parted ways with the Soviet Union, needed to eliminate the possibility of renewed conflict with the United States. Hostility with the United States would be an external threat and North Korea’s provocation of South Korea an internal threat. China was not only in conflict with the Soviets, it had a border dispute with India. Under these circumstances, Beijing pressed North Korea, North Vietnam and Mongolia for cooperation treaties to secure peace along their shared borders. Additionally, China wanted to restrain North Korea from trying to take advantage of the internal turmoil in South Korea following the student uprising on April 19, 1960 and the military coup on May 16, 1961, and triggering another war. Renewed fighting on the Korean peninsula would be detrimental to China’s security as it grappled with its own border problems. It
was for this reason that China’s amity treaty with North Korea had more concrete and precise provisions than its pacts with other states. North Korea, on the other hand, needed a cooperation treaty with China to counter the threats of South Korea-U.S. alliance. Throughout the Cold War period, North Korea felt threatened by the United States and Japan, and the 1961 military takeover in South Korea increased the North’s worries about an invasion from the South. The deepening ideological and border disputes between China and the Soviet Union added to Pyongyang’s security concerns because a military confrontation between its two largest supporters meant North Korea would have no ally to help if South Korea or the United States attacked. Pyongyang signed a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with the Soviet Union in June 1961, and a similar pact with China the following month. North Korea sought generous assistance from both Beijing and Moscow while preventing abandonment by both. 3. Contents of the Treaty Article 1 of the Sino-North Korea treaty is a declarative clause pledging efforts for the protection of world peace and security of all nations. Article 2 is a provision on mutual military assistance in the event of security threats to either party. The phrases on detailed military intervention imbue the treaty with characteristics of a pact for security alliance. “The two parties undertake jointly to adopt all measures to prevent aggression against either party by any state,” the article says. It also provides that “in the event of one of the parties being subjected to the armed attack by any state or several states together and thus being involved in a state of war, the other party
shall immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.” The word “immediately” was inserted obviously because China did not promptly extend assistance during the Korean War. Article 3 says: “Neither party shall conclude any alliance directed against the other party or take part in any bloc or in any action or measure directed against the other party.” This clause has the effect of restricting diplomatic activities of each other to forestall cooperation with capitalist states. Yet, there are little grounds to support the interpretation that this article was purposed to preclude North Korea’s cooperation with the Soviet Union in actions directed against China. By this time North Korea already had concluded a similar treaty for security cooperation with the Soviet Union. Article 4 provides that the two states will continue to consult with each other on all important international issues of common interest. Article 5 says that the two states, under the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, nonintervention in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and in the spirit of friendly cooperation, will continue to provide each other with every possible economic and technological assistance, and continue to consolidate and develop economic, cultural, and scientific and technological cooperation. This provision clarifies that the treaty is not confined to a security alliance but concerns cooperation in multiple areas. Article 6 refers to reunification of the Korean peninsula. It provides that “the unification of Korea should be realized along peaceful and democratic lines” and that “such a solution accords exactly with the national interests of the Korean people and the aim of preserving peace in the Far East.” This article seems to have fully reflected Pyongyang’s position. Article 7 says that the treaty takes effect upon the exchange of the documents
of ratification and will continue to remain in force until both parties agree on its amendment or termination. The article suggests the treaty will remain valid for a considerable time. All in all, the North Korea-China Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance was the diplomatic documentation of the “blood-tied alliance” established during the Korean War. It contains more concrete provisions compared to the North Korea-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.
III. The Changing Nature of the Friendship Treaty and its Validity 1. Changes in Bilateral Relations after the End of the Cold War After the Cold War ended, South Korea and China agreed to normalize relations and established formal diplomatic ties in August 1992. Consequently, the significance of the friendship treaty between North Korea and China lost much of its significance and validity. Pyongyang expressed serious concerns about the normalization of relations between Seoul and Beijing. In December 1992, North Korea complained and threatened to suspend tourism, culture and sports exchanges with China and demanded the writing off of its debts amounting to 25 billion yuan (about $3 billion). China invited Kim Jong-il, then second in command of the North Korean hierarchy, to visit Beijing and meet Deng Xiaoping, but Pyongyang rejected the invitation and also canceled a senior Chinese official’s participation in Kim Il-sung’s birthday celebrations. In February 1993, Chinese Premier Li Peng presided over a Foreign Ministry
policy session in which China decided not to expand political and military relations with North Korea and to support inter-Korean negotiations for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. Under the “eight principles” adopted by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to define future relations with North Korea, Beijing said that it would suspend political and military conferences with North Korea, not recognize any working-level contacts for such meetings, stop supplying modern military technologies to North Korea, and restrain activities that could cause damage to the existing ties with the North. Despite these developments, the two countries made no move to revise or terminate the friendship treaty, which remains valid until today. In contrast, North Korea and Russia initialed the “New Treaty” in 1999 to replace the 1961 North Korean-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, and then signed it in August 2000. The “New Treaty” between North Korea and Russia has no clause on military cooperation. 2. Validity of Each Provision Under Article 2 of the North Korea-China Friendship Treaty, China is not required to assist any North Korean attack on South Korea, because the treaty obliges either party to intervene for defense when the other party is attacked by a third state or states. There were unverified claims that China in 2002 demanded a revision of Article 2 to alter the phrase of “immediate intervention” but North Korea objected. Similarly, North Korea reportedly demanded a revision of Article 2 when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Pyongyang in 2009 but Beijing declined. Whether China will intervene in any open military conflict on the Korean peninsula would depend on how Beijing assesses the actual situation, the causes of conflict and possible domestic and external consequences of its
action. The Chinese intervention in the Korean War in 1950 had been decided cautiously and prudently after intensive, time-consuming internal debates. China as a superpower in the post-Cold War era will be even more prudent if full-scale hostility erupts again on the peninsula. When serious confusion occurs in the internal ruling system of North Korea, China may inevitably take measures to maintain stability on the border with North Korea, but Beijing will find it difficult to decide to intervene unilaterally in Pyongyang or other large population centers in an emergency situation. Article 3 has the effect of regulating foreign affairs of China and North Korea. It provides that either party will not participate in any alliance, bloc or action directed against the other party. After the Cold War ended, China violated Article 3 when it normalized diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1992. The action strained relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, as North Korea strongly protested, but their friendship treaty remained unaffected and no sanctions were demanded. North Koreaâ€™s first nuclear test in 2006 without prior consultation with China raised questions over Article 4 of the treaty, which calls for consultations on major international issues of common interest. China strongly criticized North Koreaâ€™s action, which impacted its security interest, but again the friendship treaty was not affected. Moreover, the summit talks between China and North Korea in May 2010, shortly after the sinking of the Cheonan in the West (Yellow) Sea, agreed to increase mutual visits and strengthen strategic communication, suggesting better adherence to Article 4. Article 5, which calls for concrete cooperation in the areas of economy, culture, and science and technology, is being well implemented with the increase of economic cooperation since 2009. Article 6 on mutual efforts to
realize the peaceful reunification of the Korean nation has been repeatedly quoted by the leaders of the two countries with Beijing continuously pledging support for it. This is a declarative clause but it provides practical grounds for Chinese intervention in the process of Korean unification. As for Article 7 concerning the revision or termination of the treaty with mutual consent, no objection has been raised. Recently, Chinese sources claimed that the treaty has been automatically extended every 20 years and its most recent extension will remain in effect until 2021.
IV. New Implications of the North Korea-China Friendship Treaty and Bilateral Relations 1. Reasons for the Treatyâ€™s Continuing Validity The Sino-North Korean friendship treaty has served not only as the legal basis of bilateral relations but also as the symbolic foundation of the ties between the two neighboring countries. With their relations changing during the 50year existence of the treaty, the full validity of the pact has seldom been asserted, and both sides have been freed from the absolute obligation of strictly applying the articles on their relations. Even though the validity of the treaty has been considerably weakened, the two parties have not taken any initiatives to terminate the pact because they both recognize its symbolic significance in securing their national interests. Both sides needed the treaty to entrap each other in the complex regional security environment: China wanted to use the treaty to cope with the threat of the South Korea-U.S. alliance as well as possible instability in North Korea; North Korea needed it to counter the direct threat of the South Korea-U.S.
alliance. Both Beijing and Pyongyang have doubts about the applicability of individual provisions but they want to maintain the treaty as a whole because they are aware of the practical interests the treaty provides for them. China finds the treaty with North Korea useful for maintaining its influence over the Korean peninsula, the most volatile place in the region. Beijing has also been wary of North Korea’s provocations against South Korea which would increase regional instability. When the two states signed the friendship treaty in 1961, China felt North Korea could attack the South again and Chinese leaders still remain sensitive to the possibility. The Beijing leadership also believes that the treaty helps maintain stability on the Korean peninsula because the United States and South Korea have to consider the possibility of Chinese intervention if military hostility flares anew on the peninsula. After North Korea’s second nuclear test in May 2009, the Chinese government made immediate efforts to steer its North Korea policy toward maintaining the North’s regime and managing security on the peninsula. In this regard, the usefulness of the treaty was further recognized. As for North Korea, the treaty with China offers a counterweight against the strengthening South Korea-U.S. alliance and worsening inter-Korean relations. Pyongyang also regards the treaty as useful in maintaining domestic stability as the power transition unfolds. The alliance between Seoul and Washington has been consolidated since 2008, raising security threat to North Korea. China’s intervention under the friendship treaty would be an important variable if military conflict erupted. In short, the treaty would deter South Korea and the United States from attempting armed provocation against the North to achieve reunification.
North Korean leaders cannot but consider the possibility of public unrest during the power transition from Kim Jong-il to his son Kim Jong-un and the vital importance of China’s support. Internal instability also results from economic difficulties, which have further deteriorated since the failed currency reform in November 2009. In January 2010, the New Year’s joint editorials used the expression “public sentiment” (minsim) for the first time, indicating concerns about widespread discontent among the general population. China’s help is essential for North Korean leaders to stave off economic crisis and the friendship treaty serves as the basis for cooperation with China. 2. Development of Sino-North Korea Economic Cooperation since 2008 Economic cooperation between North Korea and China slumped in 2006 but rapidly increased from 2008 through 2010. (See Table 1) Behind the expanding economic interactions between the two countries was the strengthening of the U.S.-South Korea alliance since the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak government in Seoul. While North Korean leaders had a growing sense of crisis, the Chinese felt compelled to keep North Korea from causing any trouble in the region before the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. China thus decided to expand economic cooperation with North Korea. International criticism mounted against North Korean belligerence after the sinking of the South Korean patrol craft Cheonan and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, and international humanitarian aid to the North was markedly reduced. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China in August 2010 to discuss expansion of bilateral economic cooperation, prior to designating his third son Jong-un as his successor later that year. The two-way trade volume between North Korea and China increased sharply in 2010 (See Table 1) as Pyongyang leaders tried to mitigate popular discontent and prevent unrest by gaining maximum amount of Chinese economic assistance.
Economic cooperation between the two countries accelerated following Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to the North in October 2009. Further growth was seen after Kim Jong-il’s visits to China in May and August 2010. In November 2009, the Chinese government announced the designation of the “Chang-Ji-Tu Pilot Zone for Development and Opening” under the Tumen (Tuman) River Area Cooperative Development Plan. The plan covering the
cities of Changchun, Jilin and Tumen envisages local industrial development in areas adjacent to the North Korean and Russian borders, especially the Rajin port of North Korea, with the North’s participation. Shortly after Kim Jong-il’s tour of northeastern China and his summit talks with Hu Jintao in Changchun in August 2010, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and North Korea’s Joint Venture Investment Committee agreed on a plan to develop Wihwado and Hwanggumpyong islets in the Amnok (Yalu) River at the western end of the North Korea-China border and the RajinSonbong special zone at the eastern end. Earlier, on January 4, 2010, the Standing Committee of the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly issued a decree to upgrade the Rajin-Sonbong zone to Rason Special City and announced the “Rason Economic and Trade Zone Law” consisting of some 50 edicts related to foreign investment in the zone. The entire project is designed to induce large-scale investment by Chinese enterprises. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held at the Hwanggumpyong-Wihwado zone on June 8, 2011 and at Rason Special City the following day, launching the joint development of the two special zones in border areas. For the Hwanggumpyong zone, the two governments agreed to apply a “joint development, joint management” model for economic cooperation. In the August 2010 summit in Changchun, Hu Jintao suggested the “four principles” of bilateral economic cooperation that governments take the initiatives; enterprises play the leading role; the market mechanism is respected; and mutual interests are pursued. Kim Jong-il agreed on expanding economic cooperation under these principles for mutual benefits. It was a step forward from an earlier agreement in 2005, when the two leaders emphasized
the role of governments to encourage corporate participation and market mechanism. In June 2011, North Korea started to build a 15-kilometer road branching out from the Hunchun-Rason highway and leading to Chongjin Port on its east coast. There also are plans to open highway routes linking Chongjin to different Chinese locations, including Longjing, Sanhe and Helong, across the Chang-Ji-Tu zone by 2015. The Tumen city government is providing materials and capital for these infrastructure projects which are jointly undertaken by North Koreaâ€™s Joint Venture Investment Committee. The scales of these projects indicate that the central government in Beijing is offering assistance on a significant level. Through the economic cooperation projects, China seeks to speed up the reform and opening of the North Korean economy initially in the border areas for the purpose of increasing its influence on North Korea. China is showing particular interest in the development of Rason to secure a port to the East Sea while North Korea is seeking to turn Hwanggumpyong into a viable international economic zone. North Korea named Chang Song-taek (Jang Song-thaek), the powerful vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, as its head of the Hwanggumpyong project and China appointed Vice Commerce Minister Chen Deming as Changâ€™s counterpart, indicating how much importance the two governments attach to the development project. Progress of the two special zone projects has been slow as the two governments are taking considerate steps to establish their operating systems envisioning long-term development. China is taking cautious steps to minimize losses to its enterprises in the event of unfavorable progress, while North Korea seeks to concentrate on the construction of infrastructure facilities under a 10-year plan stretched to 2020.
China wants to make Hwanggumpyong a model of North Korean economic reform and opening, with an expectation that it will eventually make greater contributions to the North’s economy than the Kaesong (Gaeseong) Industrial Complex near the South-North border of Korea. China plans to build dormitories for North Korean workers and their families in Hwanggumpyong so they can taste the effects of Chinese-style economic openness. 3. New Implications of the Friendship Treaty and its Limitations As observed above, there are important reasons why the friendship treaty remains valid despite the fact that both China and North Korea have failed to strictly abide by it. First, China is concerned with possible increase of instability in North Korea as the United States and South Korea have strengthened their alliance in recent years and the inter-Korean relations have been markedly worsened. Beijing considers it important to maintain the friendship treaty with North Korea as it will justify its intervention in an emergency on the Korean peninsula. When North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, China strongly criticized it. But in 2009, after the North’s second nuclear test in May, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited North Korea in October and discussed economic cooperation measures. This revealed Beijing’s strategy to cope with the possibilities of North Korea’s military aggression on one hand and its internal instability on the other. Since the Cheonan incident, China has continued to increase its economic cooperation with North Korea. This will give China greater leverage to control the North in future events. It is believed that China made an internal decision in the summer of 2009 to separate the denuclearization issue from its overall
approaches to North Korea. Yet, there exist negative factors inherent to asymmetrical conflict arising from the asymmetric security alliance of the two countries. While China wants North Korea to show “deference” in issues of security as a reward for its increasing economic assistance, North Korea consistently pursues “autonomy” in security affairs and rejects China’s interference in its internal affairs. If economic cooperation expands while security cooperation remains elusive, bilateral relations could rupture in the event of an emergency. China would want to use its influence over the North in addressing security problems, whereas the North may not acquiesce, depending on the situation. China and North Korea will likely remain ambiguous as to the validity of their friendship treaty while they continue to recognize its existence. In other words, the friendship treaty has the positive effect of economic cooperation and policy communication whereas it has only indirect and passive effect in security cooperation by deterring conflict with third countries. In this context, the treaty carries the latent possibility of dispute over security problems.
V. Matters for Consideration 1. Strategic Dialogue with China through Multiple Channels The South Korean government needs to conduct a strategic dialogue with Chinese authorities to explain its past experience in relations with North Korea. Seoul expanded economic cooperation with Pyongyang without waiting for the settlement of the nuclear problem, leading to neither progress in the denuclearization process nor reduction of security concerns on the
peninsula. Seoul needs to emphasize the importance of cooperation between China and South Korea in endeavors to resolve the North Korean nuclear question. In China, diverse sectors including the military, local governments and enterprises are playing increasing roles in shaping both domestic and foreign policies. South Korea needs to broaden contacts with these various sectors to seek their cooperation. 2. Close Observation of the Sino-North Korea Economic Cooperation Model China has promoted joint economic projects with North Korea, replicating special trade zones for Chinese investors. This is understood as an attempt to minimize investment losses in case of unsuccessful progress. Such a strategy can be a useful guideline when Seoul expands economic cooperation with Pyongyang in the future. North Korea is reportedly providing the â€œthree freedomsâ€? of transportation, communication and customs clearance for Chinese investors in the Hwanggumpyong and Rason special economic zones, while it has not allowed comparable conveniences for South Korean investors at the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Seoul needs to press Pyongyang in future negotiations to get equal or even better treatment. China demands that its domestic laws be applied to business systems in North Korean special economic zones. South Korea should also request similar concessions when it negotiates with the North so its domestic laws can be applied to cross-border business activities of South Koreans.
3. Strengthening Cooperation with Three Northeast Provinces of China China’s three northeast provinces – Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang – should be the strategic targets of South Korean investment. They are the focus of the Chinese central government’s Northeast Promotion Plan and have sought to accelerate development through active economic cooperation with North Korea. The large ethnic Korean population in the region provides advantage for South Korean investors. Economic development of the northeast provinces of China will attract North Koreans to market economy and help create favorable conditions for Korean reunification. North Korean residents can easily learn about the merits of market economy from these border provinces of China, the only window for them to the outside world. Friendly assessment of South Korean economy and society among the residents of these provinces can significantly influence the attitudes of North Koreans toward the South. The hallyu boom of South Korean pop culture which has reached this region will promptly be passed to North Koreans. It will help create favorable sentiments toward South Korea among the younger population in the North and will form the base of popular support for unification under South Korean terms. 4. Russian Gas Pipeline Project through North Korea North Korea experienced failure with the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone project in 2002 as Chinese cooperation was not available. Therefore, North Korea shows strong desire for Chinese support. When Hwanggumpyong and Rason special zones begin operating, China will have immense leverage on the North Korean economy.
According to Chinese Ministry of Commerce statistics, North Korea-China trade volume during the first nine months of 2011 amounted to $4,190 million, or 77 percent up over the same period in 2010. The annual total of 2011 is expected to reach $6 billion. When China holds the keys to resolving both security and economic problems of North Korea, South Korea will have relatively weaker leverage in the North. The South should make substantial efforts to avoid such eventuality; one possible step is promoting a Russian gas pipeline project passing through North Korea, which will help Seoul secure considerable influence on the North Korean economy. [Analysis of Major International Issues, November 11, 2011, published by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security]
The Kim Jong-un Risk and the Korean Peninsula
Post-Kim Jong-il Power Struggle and Future Prospects Hwang Il-do Staff Reporter The Weekly Dong-a
The Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party has obviously become the top decision-making body of North Korea as a new era under Kim Jong-un gets under way. The commission holds all of the keys to power in its effort to ensure a smooth father-to-son transition from Kim Jong-il. Moreover, the commission will be in charge of building and managing the new regime. The elevation of the party’s Central Military Commission pushes aside the National Defense Commission, which the late Kim Jong-il led as chairman, and underscores a vacuum in the North’s power structure. Kim Jong-il’s
“unitary leadership” consisted roughly of three top posts – the general secretary of the Workers’ Party, the chairman of the National Defense Commission, and the supreme commander of the People’s Army. Under this setup, the paramount leader of North Korea ruled the society as the general secretary elected by the party’s Central Committee; governed the country as the chairman of the National Defense Commission elected by the Supreme People’s Assembly; and controlled the military as the supreme commander backed by the Central Military Commission. When Kim Jong-il was alive, the relative importance of the three top posts depended upon prevailing conditions. The roles of the party’s general secretary and chairmanship of the National Defense Commission were emphasized in ordinary times, while the status of the supreme commander was highlighted in an emergency. There is a general consensus that the regime is now in the highest state of emergency because the central figure of the party, the government, and the military has died. Although it was not known to the outside, the regime declared a state of emergency in the name of the supreme commander of the People’s Army when the regime founder Kim Il-sung died in 1994. It was the Central Military Commission, authorized to choose the new supreme commander, that took responsibility for declaring and managing the situation in the wake of Kim Jong-il’s death last month, experts speculate.
The Supreme Power Organ The Central Military Commission became the regime’s most important tool for consolidating the hereditary succession process in September 2010, when the third party conference officially tabbed Kim Jong-un as the successor. The
party’s constitution was revised to upgrade the commission from a titular nonpermanent consultative body to the top permanent military apparatus and Kim Jong-un was named vice chairman of the commission. By first securing the command of the military, the Kim regime ensured uninterrupted control of the entire country. We can see this clearly from the lineup of the Central Military Commission. In sharp contrast to the Politburo and the National Defense Commission, which include many old and feeble or bed-ridden senior officials, the Central Military Commission consists of powerful members of the ruling elite who are actually controlling North Korea. They include all the so-called staunch supporters of Kim Jong-un, such as Ri Yong-ho, chief of the general staff, who was also elected vice chairman of the commission alongside Kim Jong-un; Chang Song-taek (Jang Songthaek), Kim’s uncle and director of the party’s Administration Department; U Dong-chuk, first deputy director of the State Security Department; Kim Jonggak, first deputy director of the General Political Bureau; and Choe Ryonghae, a party secretary. In all probability, it was the Central Military Commission that took charge of confirming facts about Kim Jong-il’s death, conducting an autopsy, and announcing his death, North Korea experts say. Despite the lack of an official confirmation, it is believed that one of the commission members was put in charge and that the commission decided as to when and how the death would be announced and how the the funeral procedures and power transition would be carried out.
Purge of Elites It is a common practice in any autocratic states that an agency that takes
charge of confirming facts relating to the sudden death of the leader and taking postmortem measures, emerges as the top power apparatus. The Central Military Commission, performing the emergency duties of the party, the government, and the military, will also have to elect its own chairman and the supreme commander of the People’s Army soon. The commission will play the central role, if the regime’s power is shared among senior officials forming a collective leadership for the time being, many observers speculate. Paradoxically, if there is any discontent or overt challenge to Kim Jong-un, it would be none other than the Central Military Commission that must be overpowered above all else. To overthrow the regime in a military coup, for example, the insurgent forces would first have to incapacitate the commission as quickly as possible and then get rid of its key members. This would be a life-or-death struggle for everyone involved. Of course, the fact that the regime remains surprisingly stable after Kim Jongil’s death shows there is little likelihood of such an emergency occurring soon. Although the power transition had not been fully completed, Kim Jong-un’s authority seemed unquestioned, considering his position on the list of funeral committee members and ensuing developments. North Korea watchers speculate that the regime was probably able to announce the demise of its paramount leader officially only two days after his death because the Central Military Commission handled the situation smoothly and efficiently. In particular, the regime assiduously erased the risk of a military coup when it funneled relatives and longtime close associates of the top leader into the commission. In other words, only those regarded as die-hard loyalists, or “inner circle members,” were appointed. They include top commanders of loyal elite units, such as the Guard Command, the type of people least expected to get involved in any coup.
Another potential threat, the paramilitary personnel of the Ministry of Public Security, also was compromised. Unlike military units deployed on the outskirts of Pyongyang and on the frontline, public security guards are stationed inside the capital and could theoretically take over key state agencies quickly with only small firearms. But this security force was restructured in April 2010 and placed under the supervision of the Central Military Commission. Furthermore, Ri Myong-su, minister of public security, was formerly director of operations at the General Staff, an appointment based on his loyalty to Kim Jong-il. While the pre-emptive steps have put a lid on any potential to foment an insurgency for now, the situation could veer in a very different direction over the long term. When he was alive, Kim Jong-il inspected military units at all levels, including even those in remote or mountainous area, to preserve their loyalty. According to South Korea’s Defense Ministry data, the late Kim had visited military units 44 times publicly since 2009 when he began the succession process in favor of his third son. Kim Jong-un accompanied his father on 16 of the visits. However, he simply has not had the time to build up ties to the military. Thus, he cannot compare to his father who provided soldiers nationwide with various benefits and promoted senior officers for decades, conferring on them the coveted “O Jung-hup-led 7th Regiment” title. Also noteworthy is a group of senior officials who were pushed aside from the power succession process. A generational change in the ruling elite started in early 2009 and was completed ahead of the session of the Supreme People’s Assembly in June 2010. In this process, key military leaders and party secretaries, who had distinguished themselves since the beginning of the songun, or “military-first,” policy in 1995, were ousted from the inner circle. Some senior officials resigned dishonorably, while others reportedly died of
diseases or accidents. They included military leaders, such as Jo Myong-rok, Kim Yong-chun, O Kuk-ryol and Kim Il-chol, and party leaders, including Ri Je-gang and Ri Yong-chol. O Kuk-ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, who led the efforts to mechanize and modernize the North Korean military since the 1970s, requires special notice. O had close personal relations with most of the senior military leaders who constituted the top brass in the run-up to the power transition. The fact that Kim Jong-il died before some of the old guard could be replaced is a risk factor that should not be ignored, long-term observers of personnel reshuffles in the North Korean military say. Moreover, nobody can rule out the possibility that these senior officers may entertain complaints about a new crop of military leaders who gained their senior posts through personal relationships with Kim Jong-un.
The Most Valuable Optimism There must be some loophole in the new ruling elite. It is a flaw in a powersharing structure or a collective leadership system that is expected to be in place for a considerable period of time. Kim Jong-il resorted to “divide and rule” tactics to let factions compete with each other. But the core principle of a power-sharing structure or collective leadership is close to “division of roles” whereby factions have to cooperate with each other. The ruling elite in Pyongyang are not familiar with such fluidity. Furthermore, this must be all the more daunting task for Kim Jong-un, an inexperienced leader. Given that a power-sharing structure can be broken easily by the slightest squabble, it is not easy to say with certainty how effectively the current regime hastily created by Kim Jong-il will govern.
What is the possibility of one of the several risks becoming an explosive reality? What will be its aftermath? The Weekly Dong-a examined various possibilities of political instability that could rise inside the North Korean society in the days ahead. First, we are going to delve into unsolved mysteries over Kim Jong-il’s death and examine potential threats to the Kim Jong-un regime. We are also going to introduce expert speculation on the possibility of regional forces, who have grown rapidly since the 1990s, rising in revolt against the central government, and of the military-first doctrine, the ideology of the Kim Jong-il era, hindering Kim Jong-un’s attempt to gain full control of the military. Given these circumstances, we are going to suggest a scenario, in which a small group of North Korean military officers stage a coup d’etat against the Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang, and review various plans formulated by Seoul and Washington in preparation for a sudden change in the North. We also will look at the possible stances of Washington and Beijing in the event of political instability in the North from the standpoints of the current international political situation. Of course, there is no need to exaggerate worries over internal power struggle or regime collapse in the North. All neighboring countries have made clear that they consider “stable management” of the North a top priority. But we still cannot overemphasize the importance of a careful review of and preparation for a worst-case scenario. This is a pre-step to wisely manage variables. Optimism about the future is really valuable only when it comes after a bout of pessimism.
The Greatest Possible Threat to the Kim Jong-un Regime
Park Hyeong-jung Senior Research Fellow Korea Institute for National Unification
It is well known that the North Korean regime conducted large-scale reshuffles of senior officials in provincial regions, as well as the ruling elite in Pyongyang, in the process of setting up a succession plan that began in January 2009. In addition, under Kim Jong-un’s initiative, the regime began a massive crackdown on so-called “anti-socialist elements” in the North KoreaChina border regions in September 2010. Perhaps, it was the first time most residents of the border regions had ever felt the weight of Kim Jong-un’s name. The crackdown coincided with the younger Kim’s public debt and was the only job he ever carried out officially in his name. Why the crackdown? It is possible that Kim Jong-un as well as his father believed that the easiest way to ensure a stable succession was to bring under control the disorderly situation in provincial regions, the Chinese border region in particular, as well as manage and control the elite in Pyongyang. Conflict between government agencies or within the elite group in the capital is simply internal squabbling among the privileged classes at best. But discord between the regime and the people or between the capital and provincial regions can be more dangerous in that it is animosity between privileged and underprivileged classes.
Conflict between Pyongyang and Regional Powers In fact, conflict between the capital and local regions came to light in the
1990s. The financial situation of the central government deteriorated in the wake of natural disasters and loss of external aid during the decade. As a result, nearly all party and government agencies and senior officials were forced to seek “self-reliance.” Simply put, public agencies and senior officials had to sustain themselves with money made by abusing their official privileges. They could not avoid bribing their superiors, including Kim Jong-il, either. Therefore, public agencies of various kinds and levels became involved in commercial pursuits and senior officials survived through corrupt dealings. This was one of the most important reasons why the regime did not collapse despite dire economic difficulty. However, as the corrupt mechanism established itself, things that the ruling elite in Pyongyang did not want to see began happening. The regime was able to control public agencies and senior officials in the capital at close range, but regional agencies and officials were beyond its reach. Corrupt officials colluded with market traders in various provincial regions, exchanging money for protection and maintaining symbiotic ties between themselves. Hence, a North Korean version of government-business collusion, or “alssam,” emerged. Analysis of several known cases shows that only a few officials at regional municipalities were involved at first, but now almost all senior officials of the party and the government engage in collusive practices. This suggests that some have gained wealth and influence in local regions in this process, because they are relatively free from interference by the central government.
Kim Jong-il generally took a hands-off approach to this phenomenon for a long time, because it was a way to maintain the regime amid the deteriorating financial situation in the central government. He cracked down only on a few selected cases when they had gone too far or when he needed to send a political message. In 1996, the Sixth Corps stationed in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province was disbanded after its senior officers were found to be involved in commercial pursuits and corruption. In August 1998, a riot at Songnim Iron Works in North Hwanghae Province was suppressed by military troops. In 2000, the local party and government organizations were dissolved in Hyesan, Yanggang Province after a crackdown by the Military Security Command. At the time, amid the “March of Tribulation,” the border city of Hyesan was among the richest regions in entire North Korea thanks to expanded trade with China. In 2002, officials were executed under the pretext of cleaning up the “vestiges” of the expanded market economy. In Mundok County, North Pyongan Province, the party and government organizations were disbanded and several officials, including the senior secretary of the county party committee, were executed by a firing squad. Also shot to death were Pak Ki-won in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province; market trader Ri Hong-chun in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province; and an official in charge of earning hard currency through foreign trade in Yonsa County, North Hamgyong Province. In 2007, the regime conducted a nationwide crackdown against “anti-socialist elements,” which lasted nearly all year. The following year, Jang Song-thaek, director of the Workers’ Party Administration Department, conducted intensive inspections on trading companies in border regions, including Sinuiju, for three months.
As mentioned earlier, Kim Jong-un supervised purges of “anti-socialist elements” in the border regions for more than a year starting in September 2010. This campaign was unprecedented in terms of duration, intensity, and the number of agencies involved. The participating agencies included the Military Security Command, which is a military police unit, and the Guard Command charged with security of Kim Jong-il, as well as civilian inspection agencies such as the central party headquarters, the Central Prosecutors’ Office, the Ministry of Public Security, and the State Security Department. The North Pyongan provincial party committee reportedly suffered significant damage while weeding out drug trafficking, potential defectors and corrupt officials.
Volatile Border Regions The real problem is that there is no clear sign of resolution of such conflict between the capital and local regions in the Kim Jong-un era, either. The central government in the capital will continuously launch selective crackdowns on provincial regions, the border regions in particular. But this is merely a “band-aid” measure that cannot cure the root cause. Pyongyang will highly likely regard the border region problems, such as local governmentbusiness collusion, the emergence of wealthy local powers, drug trafficking, potential defectors, and easy access to communications with the outside, as more menacing threats. As it turns out, during the Kim Jong-un era, political instability will likely originate from conflict between the regime and the people rather than internal discord within the privileged elite class in the capital. In other words, the widening gap between the rich and the poor and the central government’s
obvious favoritism of Pyongyang, or its blunt discrimination against regional areas, could pose a threat to the regime. Destabilizing factors, such as civil unrest, will more likely occur spontaneously in border cities than in Pyongyang. If the status quo continues, regional areas, border cites in particular, could turn into a new world quite different from Pyongyang. In Pyongyang, in which wealth and power are concentrated, the residents will have more amenities and consumer opportunities, just like the urban middle class in capitalist countries, with the city becoming classier. By contrast, the provincial regions could come under the influence of the Chinese yuan, while groaning under the weight of high unemployment rates in the wake of deindustrialization. Social ills such as poverty, drug trafficking, prostitution, homelessness, corruption, and exploitation of people by officials will further spread.
The 29-Year-Old General and the Military Cha Du-hyeon Senior Research Fellow Korea Institute for Defense Analyses
North Korean regime founder Kim Il-sung died at the age of 82 and his son and successor Kim Jong-il died at 69. The 13-year gap has more significant implications than the numbers suggest. Both bequeathed their sons one-man dictatorship through hereditary succession, but with distinctive difference in the power base they left behind. When Kim Il-sung died, Kim Jong-il was 52 years old. But Kim Jong-ilâ€™s death passed the reins to a son who is only in his late 20s. The difference looms in much sharper relief when the grooming periods of the father and the son as future rulers are compared â€“ two decades versus two years.
Nevertheless, there can be no objection to the view that the top leader of postKim Jong-il North Korea is his young and inexperienced son, Kim Jong-un, in the short term at the least. This has become possible thanks wholly to the peculiar ruling ideology left behind by his grandfather and father. In the conventional communist system, personality cult or one-man dictatorship is regarded as heresy, while communist dictatorship as a regime’s vanguard is permitted. This is because, from the materialistic point of view, it is regarded as irrational for any single individual to represent all other people as the human spirit is prone to flaws. But Kim Il-sung created the ideology of juche (self-reliance) and suryong (supreme leader), and established a unitary leadership system through two decades of power struggle since the founding of the regime, running counter to the conventional communist creed. An outstanding leader with philosophical insights can lead the people to the right path, he insisted. The hereditary succession of power from Kim Il-sung to Kim Jong-il resulted in another unique mutant ideology of “revolutionary lineage.” With a unitary leadership system combined with a revolutionary lineage, it becomes self-evident who can be the supreme leader in North Korea: only those in the family lineage of Kim Il-sung. Even Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jongun’s uncle and director of the Workers’ Party Administration Department, is nothing but a “front man,” even though he is one of the most powerful officials and is known as Kim’s patron. No matter how incompetent and inexperienced Kim Jong-un is, when compared to his father, it is nearly impossible to groom another potential legitimate heir to replace him in a short period of time.
Unstable Legacy of Songun Doctrine
Of course, this does not necessarily mean that the Kim Jong-un era will fare well in the mid to long term. Kim Jong-il died before the dynastic power transfer was completed systematically and practically. The biggest destabilizing factor is that there is no one who has full command of politics and state management skills in the wake of the long-term one-man dictatorship of Kim Jong-il. The late Kim’s favorite “divide-and-rule tactics” deprived other members of the ruling elite of any opportunity to acquire overall leadership skills themselves. Admitting that Kim Jong-un also lacks the leadership qualities necessary for ruling the country, one naturally reaches a conclusion that a collective leadership system or an oligarchy would be inevitable. Such a power-sharing system could not be maintained indefinitely, either. In order to set up an oligarchical system with Kim Jong-un at the apex, the elite group would need to reinterpret the existing ruling ideology and persuade the people to acknowledge the authority of a new governing ideology. Kim Jong-il constantly reinterpreted his father’s ideology, but there currently is no authoritative “oracle interpreter” in the North who can play a comparable role. The one-man dictatorship may seem to remain intact on the surface, but in fact the regime structurally contains disruptive factors that make such a dictatorship impossible. In this sense, the military-first doctrine, the Kim Jong-il regime’s major ruling ideology, could prove to be a destabilizing factor in the mid to long term. Kim Jong-il introduced his military-first policy after his father’s death in 1994. This gave rise to a kind of symbiotic structure, in which the supreme leader accepted the values of the military and endowed himself the status and duties as the commander-in-chief of the military to reign over the party and government organizations – instead of the military internalizing and obeying
the values of the supreme leader or the party. Although Kim Jong-il attempted to partially modify the military’s excessive political influence after 2008, the third party conference in 2010 virtually proclaimed that the regime would maintain the military-first policy for the time being. As a result, Kim Jong-il died leaving an ambiguous situation: the military’s political influence has not been sufficiently curtailed, while the regime is not fully dependent on the military any longer.
Possibility of ‘Slow Collapse’ It remains extremely uncertain whether Kim Jong-un can properly handle the military-first policy which has institutionalized the political influence of the military over the past two decades. Some predict that he may be able to hold the military in check through the party. But if this was possible, the militaryfirst policy would not have appeared in 1994. Under a unitary leadership system, the party was no longer the vanguard of the regime, but was reduced to a mere auxiliary apparatus to ensure the political legitimacy of one-man dictatorship. Of course, nobody can say with certainty that such structural flaws would lead to sudden instability or regime collapse. As a political scientist, I am not very fond of the term “sudden change” because it implies wishful thinking that the sudden regime changes that happened in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s would be repeated in North Korea. Political instability in the North can lead to far more complicated developments, considering that the North Korean people have never experienced democracy or market economy and that the regime has so far invested tremendous efforts and resources in maintaining one-man dictatorship. No matter how unreasonable it may seem to
outsiders, a certain amount of time will be necessary to debunk a political doctrine that has taken firm root through protracted political socialization. The latent destabilizing factors will certainly cause numerous problems as time passes, sometimes leading to political events such as an external eruption of power struggle. It should be noted that even if any event that might be seen as a catalyst to sudden change takes place at a certain point of time, the overall situation could develop relatively slowly in its aftermath. It could be much more difficult for us to manage a slowly weakening or crumbling North Korea because we will face far more dilemmas in view of such external variables as global economic crisis or the rise of China. This is why the next four or five years is more important than ever for the fate of the Korean peninsula and national reunification. [Weekly Dong-a, January 2, 2012, No. 818, published by The Dong-a Ilbo]
Setting the Agenda for the Success of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul Cheon Seong-whun Senior Research Fellow Korea Institute for National Unification
I. Introduction “Nuclear security” is a general term used to discuss activities designed to prevent terrorists from using nuclear material leaked from power plants or research facilities. Similar but differing terms include “nuclear disarmament,” which aims at preventing “vertical proliferation,” seen when nuclear states strengthen and modernize their arsenals; “nonproliferation,” which involves the prevention of “horizontal proliferation” caused by letting nuclear weapons and technology fall into the hands of countries or terrorist groups that have no nuclear arms; “safeguards,” meaning monitoring to prevent nuclear energy for peaceful use from being diverted to nuclear weapons development; and “nuclear safety,” or more technically precisely “nuclear material security,” which involves efficient supervision and operation of nuclear power plants. The first Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington, D.C. on April 1213, 2010. It was a successful gathering attended by 37 national leaders and high-level
organizations (U.N., IAEA and EU). Although more than four decades have passed since the “Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons” (NPT) was introduced to initiate international efforts to deal with nuclear arms proliferation, it was the first time that leaders and representatives of as many as 47 countries seriously discussed nuclear issues at one place.
On April 6, 2010, the Barack Obama administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, which reduced dependence on nuclear weapons, and on April 8, President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) in Prague, Czech Republic, contributing to an unmistakable trend toward nuclear disarmament on a global scale. In this vein, the first Nuclear Security Summit was widely expected to play a significant role in establishing a new paradigm of international security. At the Washington summit, South Korea was selected to be the host country of the second Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. Seoul’s role was confirmed when President Lee Myung-bak accepted President Obama’s invitation and all participating nations approved. The second Nuclear Security Summit, which will be held on March 26-27, is expected to draw a similar number of heads of state and high-level national representatives and international organizations. This means the summit will be the largest international gathering in the history of the Republic of Korea. It will be a good opportunity for the nation to contribute to global peace, enhance its prestige in the international community and promote national interests (Cheon Bong-keun, 2010). Meanwhile, as North Korea exports nuclear material and technology in violation of the NPT and develops nuclear weapons, South Korea’s hosting of the second Nuclear Security Summit has special meaning with respect to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. North Korea is among the instigators of nuclear proliferation, as revealed by its clandestine nuclear cooperation with Pakistan and Syria, and more recently suspected of nuclear transactions with Myanmar (Solomon, 2010). Currently, concerns are mounting in the international community about the possible use of nuclear material flown out of Yongbyon Nuclear Plant by terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, even if it doesn’t seem North Korea will go as far as committing nuclear terrorism against the United States.
This study aims to rectify conceptual and policy confusion surrounding nuclear security and suggest the scope and level of discourse on the North Korean nuclear issue for the second Nuclear Security Summit. South Korea will naturally want to include the North Korean nuclear issue, which is its major security concern, in the summit agenda. Many Koreans are indeed expecting the upcoming conference to contribute significantly to the settlement of North Korean nuclear problems. They must recognize, however, that the summit is not a forum for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue but debate on international nuclear security. Undue expectations could distort the meaning of hosting the conference and even lead to misguided criticism by the general public. In this regard, this paper attempts to explore the possibility of making discussion of North Korean nuclear issue possible at the conference and to suggest feasible policy options based on a correct understanding of nuclear security. By clarifying the major points of contention surrounding nuclear security and defining the relationship between the North Korean nuclear question and nuclear security, this paper further purports to present strategies that the South Korean government should take concerning the North Korean nuclear problem at the summit. This study first examines the impetus for launching the Nuclear Security Summit, namely, the extraordinary concerns of the United States about the possibility of nuclear terrorism. Second, it identifies the nature and meaning of nuclear security within the framework of the nonproliferation regime, and discusses the correlations among “security,” “safety” and “safeguards” in peaceful use of nuclear energy. Third, it explores the relationship between the Nuclear Security Summit and North Korean nuclear issue, and explains why the North’s nuclear problem cannot be a main agenda item at the summit.
Fourth, based on the above discussion, it presents the strategies and measures South Korea should promote, including those concerning the North Korean nuclear issue, at the summit.
II. Background of the Launch of the Nuclear Security Summit The Nuclear Security Summit is based on President Barack Obama’s policies and concepts about nuclear nonproliferation, which he presented in a speech in Prague on April 5, 2009. Stressing terrorist groups should never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons, President Obama offered to be the host of a nuclear security summit that would help block the distribution of nuclear material and technology, and institutionalize relevant international efforts. In his address at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2009, President Obama said the United States would host a summit the following April to reaffirm each nation’s responsibility to manage nuclear materials on its territory, and enhance the institutions and initiatives to prevent the smuggling and theft of nuclear material because the world could not afford a single nuclear device falling into the hands of a violent extremist. The following four policy proposals President Obama unveiled in his Prague speech became the guidelines for the first Nuclear Security Summit (The White House, 2009c). 1. Strengthen international efforts to ensure the safe management of mismanaged nuclear materials within four years; 2. Set up new standards for controlling sensitive nuclear materials, and enhance cooperation among related countries, including Russia; 3. Redouble efforts for mobilizing financial means to break up the black markets for nuclear materials and technology, detect and block off illicit traffic, and prevent transactions; and 4. Convert the existing, temporary cooperative regime, such as “Proliferation
Security Initiative (PSI)” and “Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT),” into sustainable international agencies. President Obama had been expected to carry out such a policy since his election campaign days. Candidate Obama defined nuclear weapons, germ arsenals and cyber attacks as the disastrous threats the United States could face in the 21st century, and presented policy ideas to cope with these dangers (Fact Sheet, 2008). He called for reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism and strengthening the nonproliferation regime. To that end, he called for refraining from using “highly enriched uranium (HEU)” by the private sector, enhancing the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), supporting individual countries’ establishment of nuclear material management system, holding global summits to prevent nuclear terrorism, ending nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea through negotiations, and strengthening the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States’ attention to the safe supervision over more than 2,000 tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium dispersed in dozens of countries in the world reflects its concerns about the possibility of nuclear terrorism. Since his Congressional years, Obama cited the possibility of nuclear terrorism as the most imminent peril facing the international community, which has much to do with the mounting concerns about the threat of nuclear terrorism among the American public who experienced 9/11. Many Americans believe that acts of nuclear terrorism can happen on U.S. territory someday and think they must do whatever is necessary to reduce the possibility (Allison, 2004). Accordingly, the main thrust of the Nuclear Security Summit is to enhance international allegiance and supplement related regimes to prevent nuclear terrorism, which has emerged as the biggest threat to world peace since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
President Obama’s Prague speech reflected the grave concerns of Americans and his own, saying, “Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one [nuclear bomb].” On September 24, 2009, the White House reaffirmed its determination to tighten controls on sensitive nuclear weapons-related materials to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorist groups within four years through the Nuclear Security Summit. In a statement issued on March 5, 2010 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the NPT, President Obama made clear that the Nuclear Security Summit would seek to safely control mismanaged nuclear materials by 2014. (The White House, 2009e) During the Washington summit, President Obama and concerned U.S. officials repeatedly emphasized their nuclear security initiative was primarily intended to prevent nuclear terrorism. First, President Obama said terrorist groups like al-Qaida had attempted to secure nuclear materials for atomic weapons, and if they succeed in getting them, they will surely use them, resulting in a disaster that would deal a critical blow to global peace and stability. “In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security – to our collective security,” Obama said. Second, the White House stressed in its briefing material for the summit that the threat of nuclear terrorism is not the problem of America alone but that of the whole world, saying, “Any country could be a target, and all countries would feel the effects.” (The White House, 2010c) Third, in its Nuclear Posture Review released just before the start of the first Nuclear Security Summit, the Obama administration declared that nuclear nonproliferation and prevention of nuclear terrorism is the foremost goal of its nuclear strategy, renewing the U.S. commitment “to hold fully accountable any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor that supports or enables terrorists to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction, whether by facilitating,
financing or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.” Concerning this, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pointed out that the handover of nuclear materials from states to terrorist groups is the “first-order threat” (The White House, 2010d). He made clear that the summit should focus on avoiding an event that might inflict even greater damage than 9/11 on U.S. citizens and global security by safely managing nuclear material. Fourth, the Obama’s administration’s National Security Strategy Report in May 2010 clearly describes the viewpoints of the U.S. people and government on the danger of nuclear terrorism. It said, “There is no greater threat to the American people than weapons of mass destruction, particularly those posed by the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists and their proliferation to additional states.”
III. Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime and Nuclear Security 1. Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime The “nuclear nonproliferation regime” refers to international agreements, institutions and organizations to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons (Cheon Seong-whun, 2009, 273-275). Starting with the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 to prohibit nuclear explosion or disposal of radioactive materials, many agreements and organizations have been created thus far. Among them, the NPT concluded in 1968 is the centerpiece and foundation of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Since its enactment in 1970, the NPT has continued to expand and develop, most markedly through the agreement to extend the treaty’s validity indefinitely in its fifth evaluation meeting in 1995. The NPT, composed of a
12-point preamble and 11-point provisions, is divided into three sections, often dubbed the “Three Pillars”: ① “Nuclear Nonproliferation” that prohibits the horizontal spread of nuclear weapons, ② “Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy” that facilitates the private sector’s use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, ③ “Nuclear Disarmament” that seeks to prohibit the vertical spread of nuclear weapons and encourage their abandonment.
2. Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime and Nuclear Security There is considerable confusion and misunderstanding concerning the position of nuclear security in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. This section attempts to clarify the three core concepts of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including nuclear security, and their correlations. 1) “3S” (Safeguards, Safety, Security) The “3S” represents “safeguards,” “safety” and “security.” “Safeguards” refer to various verification activities, such as measurement tests and inspections, conducted by the IAEA to assure that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by non-nuclear-weapon states are not diverted to developing nuclear weapons, as
prohibited by the NPT. The IAEA Safeguards Glossary explains the purpose of safeguards as follows: Under a “comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA),” safeguards are applied to verify a State’s compliance with its undertaking to accept safeguards on all nuclear material in all its peaceful nuclear activities and to verify that such material is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. In this regard, the technical objective is specified: the timely detection of diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons or of other nuclear explosive devices or for purposes unknown, and deterrence of such diversion by the risk of early detection.” (IAEA 2002, 11) In the same IAEA glossary, the scope of safeguards is clarified: Under a comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA), safeguards are applied on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of the State, under its jurisdiction or carried out under its control anywhere. Thus such agreements are considered comprehensive (or “full scope”). The scope of a CSA is not limited to the nuclear material declared by a State, but includes all nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards. “Safety” refers to measures to protect people and the environment from unintended accidents and disasters that can occur in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The IAEA Safety Glossary defines safety as follows: - The achievement of proper operating conditions, prevention of “accidents” or mitigation of accident consequences, resulting in
protection of workers, the public and the environment from undue radiation hazards. (IAEA, 2007, 133) - An “accident” is any unintended event, including operating errors, equipment failures and other mishaps, the consequences or potential consequences of which are not negligible from the point of view of protection or safety. - Safety is concerned with both radiation risks under normal circumstances and radiation risks as a consequence of “incidents,” as well as with other possible direct consequences of a loss of control over a nuclear reactor core, nuclear chain reaction, radioactive source or any other source of radiation - An “incident” is any unintended event, including operating errors, equipment failures, initiating events, accident precursors, near misses or other mishaps, or unauthorized act, malicious or non-malicious, the consequences or potential consequences of which are not negligible from the point of view of protection or safety. “Security” basically refers to “physical protection” of nuclear material and facilities, a term used in IAEA official papers. Definitions of related terminology include: “Physical protection regime” is the comprehensive collection of physical protection measures to prevent malicious actions from being accomplished. “Physical protection measures” are personnel, procedure and equipment that comprise a physical protection regime. “Physical protection regime” includes the following: ① Legal and regulatory framework governing the physical protection of nuclear material and facility, ② Agencies and organizations within a state responsible for guaranteeing the implementation of legal and regulatory framework, ③ Physical protection regime of facility and
transport (IAEA, 2011, 53). IAEA’s nuclear security document defines broadly-termed purposes sought by the nuclear security regime as the “protection of people, property, society and the environment from malicious activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials.” The document stipulates the purposes of physical protection: - “To protect against unauthorized removal”: protect against theft or other unauthorized extortions of nuclear material in use, storage or transport. - “To locate and recover missing nuclear material”: ensure the implementation of swift, comprehensive measures to locate and recover missing or stolen nuclear material. - “To protect against sabotage”: protect against sabotage of nuclear material and facilities. - “To mitigate or minimize effects of sabotage”: mitigate or minimize radioactive impact of sabotage. “Sabotage” is defined as follows: Any deliberate act directed against a nuclear facility or nuclear material in use, storage or transport which could directly or indirectly endanger the health and safety of personnel, the public or the environment by exposure to radiation or release of radioactive substances. Both nuclear security and physical protection target nuclear materials and facilities, but nuclear security also involves radioactive substances (Yu, 2011). Nuclear materials can be divided into “fissile” material and “fertile” material. Fissile materials are the key materials of nuclear weapons and are used as fuel
for nuclear reactors. They include the following nuclides that can start a nuclear fission by absorbing a neutron: ① Plutonium-239 (Pu-239), ② Pu241, ③ Uranium-233 (U-233), and ④ U-235. Fertile materials are nuclides that can be turned into fissile materials by absorbing a neutron. They include U-238 and Thorium-232 (Th-232). Radioactive materials comprise the following kinds: ① Cobalt-60 (Co-60), ② Cesium-137 (Cs-137), ③ Iridium192 (Ir-192), ④ Strontium-90 (Sr-90), and ⑤ Americium-241 (Am-241). 2) Correlations among the “3S” The “3S,” despite their conceptual differences, are interrelated. For example, “safeguards” and “security” have the following three points in common: ① prevent the diversion of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes to nonpeaceful purposes, ② strengthen accountancy and control of nuclear material, and ③ stress education and training of personnel. There are also overlapping areas between “safety” and “security.” Safety emphasizes transparency while security is based on secrecy, but it is important to establish the culture of safety and protection, because even a single accident can have grave effects on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy on a global scale. A nuclear security expert at the University of Georgia, in the United States, explains the difference between safety and security: In the case of nuclear safety, they focus on confusion stemming from authorized nuclear research, production and transportation network, destruction and unintended acts and conditions that result in radioactive leakage, while stressing engineered protection and safety management in responding to them. In the case of nuclear security, they focus on the malicious use of nuclear infrastructure and products by terrorists, criminals and other elements, while stressing information gathering, physical protection, surveillance and delivery
of promises in responding to them. (Khripunov, 2010) In the same vein, IAEA Safety Glossary defines nuclear security: Nuclear security refers to prevention and detection of, and response to, theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer or other malicious acts involving nuclear material, other radioactive substances or their associated facilities. (IAEA, 2007, 133) In addition, it explains the overlapping nature of nuclear safety and nuclear security as shown in Figure 2.
“Control measures” in the above graphic refer to steps to check equipment because safety or security problems can occur, either naturally or artificially, due to risk elements such as damage or malfunction inherent in the machinery and equipment. Safety/security “synergies” at nuclear power plants are
considered possible despite the fact that safety and security measures are currently separated so there is little exchange of information and many overlapping processes, including equipment checks. Possible synergies include: ① regulatory framework, and engineering criteria in design and construction, ② control over access, ③ categorization of radioactive sources, ④ security and management of radioactive sources and materials, ⑤ emergency response plans, and ⑥ management of radioactive waste (Khripunov, 2010). According to the IAEA’s safety document, there are no clear distinctions between safety and security. Security generally refers to malicious or careless activities that can be threatening or harmful, while safety deals with broader problems regarding hazards to people and the environment from radioactive contamination. Safety and security can overlap differently, however, depending on circumstances. Safety issues essentially concern activities, and transparent and probabilistic methods of safety analysis are used. Security issues are classified matters concerning malicious activities, and judgment on the threat is applied. (IAEA 2007, 134) Based on the above discussion, correlations among the “3S” may be summed up and arranged as shown in the following graphic.
All the overlaps between safeguards and safety can be seen as problems from compound occurrences of material accountancy incidents and nuclear accidents caused by state actors. On the other hand, safeguards and security have overlaps because they both deal with unlawful transfer and proliferation of nuclear materials by state actors (safeguards) and non-state actors (safety). Safety and security deal with identical problems of nuclear accidents and disasters although their causes differ – unintended, natural factors (safety) and intended, man-made factors (security). Whether natural or artificial, accidents require anti-disaster steps such as escape or evacuation to minimize effects of radiation. Harvard University Professor Matthew Bunn, comparing the relationship between safety and security to a mirror image, said, “There can be no safety without security, and no security without safety.” Similarly, the relationship
between safeguards and security, and that between safeguards and safety may be described as follows: “Without safeguards, security cannot be attained, and without security, the effectiveness of safeguards cannot be ensured. Also, without safeguards, there can be no safety, and without safety, proper safeguards cannot be enforced.”
IV. Nuclear Security Summit and North Korean Nuclear Issue Considering that nuclear security basically concerns the safe management of nuclear material, it is an entirely different issue from North Korea’s denuclearization. Although the United States and Russia declared their reduction of weapons-grade plutonium at the first Nuclear Security Summit, it does not constitute nuclear disarmament. Likewise, the “New START” was not an agreement in terms of nuclear security. But it still is difficult to completely set aside the North Korean nuclear issue at a conference hosted by South Korea. President Lee, at a meeting to commemorate the 43rd Science Day held shortly after the first Nuclear Security Summit, said, “I think the issues concerning the two countries, North Korea and Iran, will be discussed in earnest” at the second Nuclear Security Summit (Yonhap News, 2010a). A nuclear security expert at the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies (USIS) said that South Korea’s hosting of the second Nuclear Security Summit can allow Seoul to clearly differentiate itself from North Korea in the international community, hold a special session that deals with an “outlier country” issue like North Korea, and issue a statement on North Korean nuclear problem. It will be more desirable, however, to move beyond the simple differentiation of South and North Korea toward making the summit contribute, at least a little, to the settlement of North Korean nuclear crisis. But the suggested special session on North Korea will not have much effect if only
a small number of countries participate, fail to agree on a joint statement, or produce an inconsequential agreement. The forthcoming summit should discuss North Korean nuclear problem as a matter of course and go one step further to call for the North’s denuclearization to maintain regional security and global peace. To that end, South Korea should present a logical argument to back up its assertion that the North Korean nuclear issue is related with nuclear security. The conventional view of the North Korean nuclear problem is that it is related to the NPT regime’s first pillar of nuclear nonproliferation, which involves intentional, horizontal proliferation of nuclear material, and the third pillar of nuclear disarmament, which involves vertical proliferation. Hence, it is said, there is little linkage between the issue and nuclear security. There are few logical shortcomings in this argument. It is consistent with the correct understanding and reality of the global nonproliferation regime. We must not forget, however, that the North Korean issue goes beyond the simple question of horizontal or vertical proliferation; it pertains to “irresponsible proliferation” of nuclear technology to rogue states or non-state actors by an outlier country that ignores international norms. North Korea’s irresponsible proliferation and illegal trafficking of nuclear materials and technology are direct targets of nuclear security. For example, North Korea’s construction of an improved model of 5MWe nuclear reactor in Syria since the early 2000s is clear evidence that it has spread nuclear technology. The centrifugal separation facility that North Korea unveiled in early November 2011 was an important example that shows nuclear technology and material were brought into North Korea from third countries. Actually, the North’s highly enriched uranium program has been progressing since the mid-1990s in cooperation with Pakistan. North Korea’s
close cooperation with state sponsors of terrorism and missile supply to several Middle East countries also should be considered. In other words, South Korea can find a link that connects North Korean nuclear issue to nuclear security from the fact that the outlier regime has irresponsibly proliferated nuclear technology and material, abetting the threat of nuclear terrorism. The nexus between North Korean nuclear problem and nuclear security can also be found in the security-safety overlaps. The safety problems of North Korean nuclear facilities can be handled in terms of security by recognizing that safety and security are not separate concepts but supplement each other. Safety basically addresses accidents while security deals with intentional incidents and disasters. In this vein, security can be defined as “artificial safety problems.” On the other hand, accidents caused by natural disasters, like that in Fukushima, Japan, can be defined as “sabotage by nature.” But it is not desirable to pick North Korea’s nuclear weapons and facilities directly related with their production as targets of nuclear security. It is undoubtedly true that nuclear weapons as well as facilities and equipment related with their production and operation are included among the targets of nuclear security in a broader framework of nonproliferation. At the first Nuclear Security Summit, attended by all nuclear-weapon states except for North Korea, the participants took up related measures with the United States and Russia pledging to eliminate excess weapons-grade plutonium. Nonetheless, it is desirable to exclude issues related with nuclear weapons from the agenda for the second Nuclear Security Summit hosted by South Korea, a non-nuclear-weapon state. There are several reasons why it is not appropriate to broach issues related to nuclear weapons as a common theme of discussion at a meeting attended by a far larger number of non-nuclear-weapon states than nuclear-weapon states.
First, nuclear-weapon states would highly likely oppose detailed discussion of nuclear weapons at a meeting hosted by a non-nuclear-weapon state. Second, although the plutonium reduction by the United States and Russia represented cooperation for nuclear security between nuclear powers, it was a one-off event that needs not be contained in the summit framework. Third, although other nuclear powers than the United States and Russia may also take their respective measures to enhance nuclear security, they are unlikely to report steps related with their nuclear weapons security to the summit. After all, the issue itself is impractical as an agenda item. Fourth, the international community will effectively recognize the necessity of protecting North Koreaâ€™s nuclear capability from sabotage and other threats by discussing its nuclear weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials at a summit on nuclear security. The debate itself can result in the formal recognition of North Korea as a nuclear-weapon state. Fifth, it should be remembered that North Korea as an outlier country can threaten the nuclear security of countries other than South Korea. The North Korean nuclear program is an object of monitoring, not support. Sixth, it is desirable for South Korea, which chooses to stay away from nuclear armament, to host a conference that focuses on problems faced by nonnuclear-weapon states in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Ultimately, considering a great majority of participants in the Seoul summit are nonnuclear-weapon states, it is a realistic and reasonable approach to define the nature of nuclear security issue as problems occurring in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. To sum up, it is advisable to set up the characteristics of nuclear security and scope of agenda items to be discussed in the second Nuclear Security Summit
as shown in <Figure 4>, based correlations among nuclear nonproliferation, the “3S” (safeguards, safety and security), and the elements composing them. Basically, the “3S” is regarded as a sub-element of “peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” the second pillar of the NPT regime. In other words, the “3S” is defined as a concept that deals with three problems that can arise when states without nuclear arms use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes: ① diversion of nuclear material for military purposes (safeguards), ② damage from unintended accidents and disasters (safety), ③ malicious disposal of nuclear material and sabotage (security).
V. Korea’s Strategy and Countermeasures
1. Basic direction
1) Exclusion of Discussions on Nuclear Weapons At a nuclear security summit attended by a large number of non-nuclearweapon states, it is realistic to focus on the security of nuclear material for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Issues related with nuclear weapons may be handled at the level of “house gifts,” declarations or actions voluntarily brought by nuclear powers. This is the only way that undue expectations on the settlement of North Korean nuclear issue can be prevented. 2) Addition of the “Safety” Issue to the Agenda Unlike the first Nuclear Security Summit, which entirely focused on security, the second summit should also discuss the safety issue because safety and security have overlapping areas in both conceptual and real terms. In fact, the safety issue is unavoidable, considering the Fukushima nuclear accident that occurred in neighboring Japan. Korea and the United States also seem to have common interests in this issue. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her call on Cheong Wa Dae on April 17, 2011, asked South Korea to lead the summit discussion on safety of nuclear power generation so as to produce useful results. President Lee readily agreed (The Dong-a Ilbo, 2011b). A series of safety accidents at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by earthquake and tsunami exposed the vulnerability of nuclear power facilities. As a result, concerns are mounting about terrorists inflicting a similar level of damage on nuclear power plants (Kim, 2011). For example, they could paralyze the cooling system of nuclear plants, cut off outside power or impair emergency power. If the common point of safety and security is damage, the only difference is the cause of damage – nature in the case of safety, and terrorists in the case of security. So far, the standard of nuclear
power plant construction has been either “Design Basis Threat (DBT)” or “Design Basis Accident (DBA).” But Fukushima has shown that more is needed. Now that nature has caused an enormous disaster exceeding the conventional standards, countries need a new design standard that can keep people safe from extreme events. Kenneth N. Luongo, who heads the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), while citing the example of the European Union, proposed that the participating countries in the second Nuclear Security Summit conduct “stress tests” on their nuclear power facilities (Luongo, 2011). EU member nations reportedly agreed to voluntarily conduct safety checkups on their 143 nuclear reactors. 3) Creation of the Seoul Consensus At the second Nuclear Security Summit, the participants should discuss how to develop the summit after 2013, the year before the deadline proposed by President Obama in his Prague address for accomplishing the safe management of sensitive nuclear materials. As the host country, South Korea will need to present a new vision for the next summit. In other words, Seoul must induce agreement on the next summit’s agenda and how the global regime should achieve President Obama’s four-year goal by 2014. A blueprint for the summit’s future is also necessary to dispel concerns that the summit might lose its momentum if President Obama fails to be reelected in 2012. The danger of nuclear terrorism will not diminish whether he wins reelection or not. Especially from the aspect of Korea-U.S. relations, it will surely have a positive effect on the bilateral alliance if Korea develops a Washington-initiated agenda into a sustainable topic for the global community. Taking these points into account, Korea needs to draft a “Seoul Consensus” recommending the following actions and reflect them in the summit’s
declaration: - Confirm that in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, safeguards, safety and security (“3S”) are basically in a mutually supplementary relationship that forms a virtuous cycle. - Expand the 2014 summit to a “Nuclear Energy Summit” that deals with safeguards, safety and security. - Adopt the motto of “Responsible Use of Nuclear Energy,” for which national leaders meet every two years and recognize the importance of safeguards, safety and security; check outcomes and problems; arouse attention to the possibility of nuclear terrorism; and reaffirm their determination to fulfill international obligations. There may be counterarguments to expanding the agenda of the Nuclear Security Summit to include the “3S.” Many non-nuclear-weapon states would likely oppose the inclusion of safeguards because it could be seen as emphasizing their obligation to accept inspections as well as limiting their right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. However, the inclusion of safeguards is a supplementary step that backs up the NPT regime. It is to confirm the importance of IAEA inspections and international commitment to faithfully conduct them rather than to impose new obligations for inspection. The aim is not to draw a clear distinction between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states as provided by the NPT regime. There is also an argument that countries that even oppose the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including Australia, will oppose the inclusion of safeguards. That means these countries will not approve the moves that would expand the use of nuclear energy itself. However, the use of nuclear power for energy is
an issue that individual nations should be allowed to decide unilaterally. There is no room for intervention. On the other hand, those countries which have given up nuclear armament have the right to affirm that nuclear power plants in other countries are not diverted to military purposes but are operated safely without being exposed to terrorist threats. As seen in the North Korean nuclear program and the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis, nuclear accidents, terrorism or nuclear weapons sharing can imperil neighboring countries. In light of all this, Seoul’s move to draft the “Seoul Consensus” proposing to expand the summit agenda to include the “3S” and develop the Nuclear Security Summit into the “Nuclear Energy Summit” can be fully justified. 2. Strategy to Discuss the North Korean Nuclear Issue Although the Nuclear Security Summit will not be a forum to directly solve the North Korean nuclear issue, a failure to discuss the North Korean nuclear problem, the biggest security threat facing South Korea, will be seen as inappropriate by the South Korean people. If the organizers fail to properly cover the issue, criticism may arise about “missing the crucial North Korea issue,” and skepticism may spread about “hosting big international events that cannot take care of our own security issue.” In a broader context, the second Nuclear Security Summit provides the following opportunities in terms of resolving the North Korean nuclear problem. - Imprint the importance and seriousness of the North Korean nuclear issue once again in the international community; - Introduce in detail the threat of North Korean nuclear programs by
appropriately citing Pyongyang’s intimidating slogans such as “Turn Seoul into a sea of fire” or “Change South Korea into a heap of ashes”; - Produce the effects of applying indirect, diplomatic pressure on the North Korean leadership to abandon nuclear programs; - Win international support for Seoul’s non-nuclear-weapon, peaceful diplomatic policy; - Remind global leaders of the reality surrounding the divided Korean peninsula and secure the South’s diplomatic edge over the North by taking advantage of a multilateral summit that discusses the North’s nuclear arms program. Specifically, there is a need to play up the North Korean nuclear issue from the aspect of nuclear security. The nuclear problems of North Korea and Iran are not only challenges to nuclear nonproliferation but also are matters that can lead to demand for nuclear disarmament, the third pillar of the NPT regime. However, Seoul could put this issue on the table based on the reasoning that the “irresponsible proliferation” by outlier North Korea, as proven by its nuclear cooperation with Syria and Myanmar and unveiling of uranium enrichment program, can directly affect global nuclear security. Also, from the viewpoint of nuclear security, the host government ought to stress the reality that transparency is not being secured on North Korea’s nuclear activities and that North Korea, which does not allow access for IAEA, is a far more serious problem than Iran that permits IAEA’s inspection. Although North Korea has pulled out of the NPT regime, there will be little problems in discussing the North’s nuclear issue, as countries that are known to be nuclear powers, including Israel, India and Pakistan, attended the first summit. If the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul deals with the North Korean nuclear issue, there are four possible agenda items: ① nuclear weapons, ②nuclear materials, ③ safety of nuclear facilities, and ④ nuclear proliferation
activities. Among them, nuclear weapons and materials cannot be on the agenda, so it is desirable to opt for nuclear safety and proliferation. In dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability in terms of nuclear security, it will be difficult to take it up as an agenda item because of the following obstacles: - There are no nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes in North Korea. - The international community may end up justifying North Korea’s reprocessing and enriching facilities for nuclear weapons production as nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. - North Korea deceived and trampled on the NPT regime, leaving far worse precedents than Israel, India and Pakistan. - Handling the North Korean nuclear issue can give wrong signals to potential nuclear states, such as Iran, Syria and Myanmar. Targeting nuclear material as an agenda item presents two problems. First, there are very few possibilities that nuclear materials are stolen or seized in North Korea in view of the communist regime’s strong internal control. It will be the time of internal turmoil when North Korea’s nuclear materials become vulnerable, but presuming such an emergency situation to manage nuclear material can be a political issue prompting strong opposition from China, among other allies. Second, if North Korea makes public its possession of plutonium and enriched uranium and asks for technological and financial support for the sake of nuclear security, the international community would have to decide whether to accept the request. North Korea’s nuclear materials are illegal, produced by deceiving the international community and violating all resolutions, so they are not to be safely managed but scrapped. Therefore, it is impossible to accept
North Korea’s request for support. In this regard, North Korea’s nuclear material cannot become an agenda item. The safety of nuclear facilities can be discussed in terms of where safety overlaps with security. In other words, the summit can stipulate the nature of North Korean nuclear issue and concerns surrounding it from the aspect of nuclear security as follows, and then discuss the issue: - While the existing concept of nonproliferation takes issue with intentional proliferation by the North Korean regime, nuclear security focuses on preventing sabotage against the regime’s intentions to inflict damage on South Korea and other neighboring countries as well as North Korea. - The international community shares the concern that sabotage is highly likely to occur when internal unrest accelerates in North Korea and the regime’s control weakens, resulting in political confusion or regime change. - The Seoul summit adds safety to its agenda and deals with the safety of North Korean nuclear facilities. North Korea’s nuclear proliferation is an issue of nuclear security that must be discussed at the Nuclear Security Summit without fail. Blocking nuclear proliferation is tantamount to closing off the path toward nuclear terrorism. The joint statement of the second Nuclear Security Summit should contain a message denouncing the nuclear proliferation activities committed by North Korea thus far and calling for preventing their recurrence. In addition, it ought to lay out action plans to convert the “Proliferation Security Initiative,” which is currently a “coalition of willing,” into a legally binding “PSI Convention.” Considering the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology is a major factor threatening nuclear security and North Korea is a party involved in “irresponsible proliferation,” Seoul’s proposal for the PSI Convention reflects
the peculiar situation facing the Korean peninsula. North Korea’s unauthorized traffic of nuclear technology and material is a more imminent target of nuclear security than anything else. 3. Proposals to North Korea The South Korean government may officially invite North Korea to the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, although it was not invited to the first summit in Washington, D.C. There can be criticism that the invitation would not only recognize effectively the nuclear capability the North is already possessing but also support Pyongyang’s claims that its current nuclear facilities are for peaceful use of nuclear energy. From a broader viewpoint, however, it is desirable for the South Korean government to invite Kim Jong-il directly. The invitation will represent the South Korean people’s wishes that North Korea will contribute to nuclear security and its leader will have an opportunity to join an international gathering and change his position. As the old saying goes, “To see is to believe.” Of course, the North Korean authorities are unlikely to accept the invitation, but it will help enhance the South’s national interest to make a gesture of reconciliation and offer an opportunity to discuss the North Korean issue at the summit. At a news conference held immediately after deciding to host the summit, President Lee also expressed his intention to invite North Korea. North Korea indirectly showed willingness to participate in the second Nuclear Security Summit. In a memorandum released by its foreign ministry on April 21, 2010, right after the first summit, the North said, “We are willing to join international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and safely manage nuclear
materials on an equal footing with other nuclear powers” (Korean Central News Agency, 2011). When President Lee made an official invitation during his visit to Germany on May 9, 2011, however, North Korea rejected it, saying President Lee’s invitation presupposed the “abandonment of nuclear programs” and “apology for Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents.” (Korean Central News Agency, 2011; Choson Sinbo, 2011) But Seoul might possibly re-invite Kim with no strings attached in early 2012. Aside from inviting Kim, Seoul could make the following proposals in regard to nuclear security: - Urge North Korea to accede to all international norms related with nuclear security as soon as possible; - Propose nuclear security cooperation between the two Koreas, and push for mutual monitoring of their nuclear facilities and exchange of related data; - Sign an agreement that bans sabotage and use of force on each other’s nuclear facilities. In this regard, Luongo, recalling North Korea’s April 2010 memorandum, said it would be advisable to invite the North and discuss the following problems before or after the summit (Luongo, 2011): - The six countries participating in the North Korean nuclear negotiations invite North Korea for inspection of advanced nuclear security situations; - Conduct workshops on technical issues including: ① Security of nuclear stockpiles through computerized measurement technique, ② Physical protection system using cameras, fences and intruder detection devices, ③ Emergency response and communication technology, ④ Training of security personnel, ⑤ Security of nuclear material during transport, ⑥ Border security, ⑦ Preventing smuggling of nuclear material.
- Related technology demonstrations may be conducted at test facilities in the United States or Russia, instead of North Korea. In addition, South Korea may propose more specifically what it can give in return for North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear programs on the occasion of the second Nuclear Security Summit. For instance, Seoul could provide such incentives as the support for the construction of light-water nuclear reactors, reemployment of North Korean nuclear scientists and cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. All these can serve as systematic and comprehensive “carrots” that can simultaneously meet the South’s goal of eliminating North Korean nuclear threat and the North’s demand for economic aid. The prototype of this denuclearization scheme is found in the “Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)” program implemented by the United States to dismantle Russia’s nuclear weapons and convert their military capability into civilian use after the Cold War ended (Woolf, 2001, 1-2). The CTR program has been intensively applied to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, where nuclear weapons were deployed during the Cold War. Learning from this example, South Korea is advised to propose the “Korean Peninsula Cooperative Threat Reduction (KCTR)” program to North Korea as well as the international community. The program should call for eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons in a narrow sense and all weapons of mass destruction and missile threats in a broader sense by converting facilities that can be reused into civilian use and deploying related manpower to industrial worksites for peaceful purposes.
The Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul has significant importance for various reasons. First of all, Korea’s hosting of the second multilateral summit on nuclear security carries remarkable significance in view of the Korea-U.S. alliance, which has become even more important due to North Korea’s nuclear arms development. The summit signifies Korea stands at the vanguard of international anti-nuclear terrorism campaigns and takes the lead in the global movement along with the United States. This in turn shows Korea is playing a pivotal role by collaborating with America in the changing international security environment at a time when nuclear terrorism is emerging as a new security threat while the risk of all-out nuclear war among nations has decreased. Also, Korea’s hosting of the second Nuclear Security Summit will be a new milestone in the 60-year history of the Korea-U.S. alliance in that it will help form a new framework of alliance on a stronger foundation of mutual cooperation in a new international security paradigm. The summit will provide an opportunity to prove, at home and abroad, that South Korea has been reborn as a country that directly contributes to the U.S. security from a beneficiary of U.S. military protection. This is a symbolic event almost comparable to Korea’s participation in the Vietnam War during the presidency of Park Chung-hee in the 1960s. The summit will consolidate the Korea-U.S. alliance to help resolve major international issues, including North Korea’s nuclear arms program. North Korea, Syria and Iran were not invited to the first Nuclear Security Summit. North Korea has developed nuclear weapons while deceiving the international community, Iran is going a similar way, and Syria has tried to build a new model of 5MWe nuclear reactor but in vain due to Israel’s air strike. There is a prevalent view that these three countries form a kind of food chain with North Korea as a link. To discipline North Korea, which has
developed nuclear weapons despite the international community’s consistent dissuasion over the past two decades and reneging on all its pledges, the U.N. Security Council has imposed the severest economic sanctions since the Korean War. The IAEA is conducting investigations into Syria, while keeping a tight rein on Iran as well. North Korea is now a major subject of discussion at the Nuclear Security Summit as well as a target of surveillance. North Korea’s nuclear problem has long gone out of the Korean peninsula to become a global issue. North Korea stands at the heart of global nuclear proliferation with its secretive nuclear cooperation with Pakistan and Syria proven true and new suspicions raised about its nuclear transaction with Myanmar. Even if North Korea stops short of committing acts of nuclear terrorism against the United States, there are concerns that nuclear material flown out of Yongbyon might be used by terrorist groups like al-Qaida. In this regard, South Korea’s hosting of the second Nuclear Security Summit has particular significance in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis as well. By convening the summit in South Korea, which confronts permanent threat from a major instigator of nuclear security concerns, the international community will send a strong warning to North Korea. The North Korean regime could take it as diplomatic and political discipline that is even more painful than economic sanctions. The time has long past for North Korean leaders to correctly read the general stream of nuclear disarmament in the global community. It is hoped that leaders of the two Koreas will hold their hands together, vowing to denuclearize North Korea and thereby declaring a new milestone toward the “world without nuclear weapons,” at the second Nuclear Security Summit. References
1. Books (authored, compiled or translated) and Reports Cheon Bong-geun, 2010. “Achievements and Tasks of the Nuclear Security Summit,” Analysis of Major International Issues, Seoul: Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, May 18. Cheon Seong-whun, 2011. The Second Nuclear Security Summit and North Korean Nuclear Issue, Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification. _____, 2009. “Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime: Issues and Measures for Improvement,” Korean Journal of International Studies, Vol. 49, No. 4. _____, 2006. Cooperative Denuclearization of North Korea, Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification. Allison, Graham, 2004. Nuclear Terrorism: the Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, New York: Owl Books. Department of Defense, 2010. Nuclear Posture Review Report, Washington, D.C., April. IAEA, 2011. Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (INFCIRC/225/Revision 5), IAEA Nuclear Security Serie No. 13, Vienna. IAEA, 2007. Safety Glossary: Terminology Used in Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection, 2007 Edition, Vienna. IAEA, 2002. Safeguards Glossary, 2001 Edition, International Nuclear Verification Series No. 3. Vienna. International Panel on Fissile Materials, 2009. Global Fissile Material Report 2009: A Path to Nuclear Disarmament, www.fissilematerials.org. Khripunov, Igor, 2010. “Post-Nuclear Summit Agenda: Challenges and Opportunities,” Center for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, May 26. Woolf, Amy, 2001. Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs: Issues for Congress, CRS Report for Congress, Washington D.C.: The Library of Congress.
The White House, 2010a. National Security Strategy, Washington, D.C., May. The World Threat 2004: Challenges in a Changing Global Context, 2004. Testimony of Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet before the Senate Armed Services Committee, United States Senate, March 9. 2. Treatises Yu Ho-sik, 2011. “International Nuclear Security: Trends and Korea’s Role,” presentation at the Forum on Nonproliferation, March 10. Jeon Eun-ju, 2010. “Nuclear Security Summit: Major Issues and Prospects,” Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Daejon, October 21. Kim Du-yeon, 2011. “Fukushima and the Seoul 2012 Nuclear Security Summit,”
http://www.thebulletin.org. (Read on April 1, 2011) Luongo, Kenneth, 2011. “The Urgent Need for a Seoul Declaration: A Road Map for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and Beyond,” Arms Control Treaty, April, www.armscontrol.org/print/4769. (Read on April 30, 2011) _____, 2010. “Making the Nuclear Security Summit Matter: An Agenda for Action,”
http://www.armscontrol.org/print/4058. (Read on January 18, 2011) 3. Newspapers and Magazines The Dong-a Ilbo [a], August 23, 2011. The Dong-a Ilbo [b], April 18, 2011. Yonhap News, May 10, 2011. Yonhap News [a], April 21, 2010. Yonhap News [b], April 14, 2010. Choson Sinbo, “Invitation to the Nuclear Security Summit – Chong Wa Dae Pushed by Pressure,” May 11, 2011. Korean Central News Agency, Press comment by the spokesman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, May 11, 2011.
Korean Central News Agency, Memorandum of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, April 21, 2010. Solomon, Jay, 2010. “Myanmar’s links with Pyongyang stir nuclear fear,” Wall Street Journal, December 17. 4. Others Fact Sheet: Obama’s New Plan to Confront 21st Century Threats, July 16, 2008. http://www.barackobama.com. The White House, 2010b. Remarks by the President at the Opening Plenary Session of the Nuclear Security Summit, Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, April 13. The White House, 2010c. Key Facts about the National Security Summit, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, April 13. The White House, 2010d. Press Briefing by Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications; Gary Samore, Senior White House Coordinator for WMD Counterterrorism and Arms Control; and Laura Holgate, Senior Director for WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C., April 13. The White House, 2010e. Statement by President Obama on the 40th Anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, March 5. http://www.whitehouse.gov. (Read on March 10, 2010) The White House, 2009a. Fact Sheet on the United Nations Security Council Summit on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, UNSC Resolution 1887, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, September 24. http://www.whitehouse.gov. (Read on October 8, 2009) The White House, 2009b. Remarks by the President to The United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Headquarters, New York, New York, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, September 23. The White House, 2009c. Remarks by President Barack Obama, Hradcany Square, Prague, Czech Republic, Washington, D.C.: Office of the Press Secretary, April 5. http://www.whitehouse.gov. (Read on July 26, 2009) [National Strategy, 17-4, Winter 2011, published by the Sejong Institute]
Korea’s Top Ten Hits of 2011 Lee Jung-ho Research Fellow Samsung Economic Research Institute
I. Wide Range of Products and Services The Samsung Economic Research Institute’s annual survey of top ten consumer favorites yielded one of the most eclectic lists in years. Topping the 2011 roster compiled from an experts and Internet survey of 7,725 people was instant noodle sensation Kokomyun. The rest of the selections were: ② Steve Jobs; ③ Internet messaging service Kakao Talk; ④ TV competition show “I Am a Singer”; ⑤ Galaxy S II; ⑥ K-pop; ⑦ Pension Lottery 520; ⑧ Movie “Dogani” ⑨ Pyeongchang’s winning the 2018 Winter Olympics bid; ⑩ Tongkeun (big bucket) or half-price private brand (PB) products. The most notable change from previous years is that only two IT products made the 2011 list. In a reflection of the economic pressures and dampened consumer sentiment, a lottery and deep discounts became shopping priorities. Unlike 2010, service products constitute more than two-thirds of the list.
II. Themes of Top Ten Hits The year 2011 was characterized by high inflation and low economic growth, tension and uncertainties, and spreading social influence in the online world. Worries about the future, disasters at home and abroad, and extreme weather events stifled consumer sentiment significantly. When they did spend, consumers sought small measures of solace. They also gained a louder voice on product concept, prices and distribution through the rising influence of
The hit list suggests four themes: ① out-of-the-box novelty, ② global recognition of Korea, ③ lowering economic burden, and ④ attention to the disadvantaged. 1. Out-of-the-Box Novelty: Kokomyun, Steve Jobs, “I Am a Singer” Korean consumers flocked to out-of-the-box novelty in 2011. They enthusiastically applauded and encouraged products that created fun by introducing a new perspective as well as a person who exemplified innovation and salesmanship. Kokomyun topped the 2011 list by departing from conventional thinking about humble ramyeon. Kokomyun, based on a famous comedian’s recipe on a popular TV variety program, rocked the ramyeon market dominated by red chili soup mix. Food company Korea Yakult jumped on the idea of clear broth and released Kokomyun in August, which became a game changer in the crowded ramyeon industry, frequently selling out at large discount stores. In
the first four months, 70 million units of Kokomyun were sold. Beginning in October, Kokomyun even exceeded the average sales of five other top ramyeon brands. The death of Apple founder Steve Jobs (No. 2) brought attention to his indomitable spirit and passion. His creative achievements and life story captured minds and hearts of Korean consumers. Along with the Apple iPhone 4S, which went on sale shortly before Jobs’ death, his biography drew huge attention in Korea, selling about 400,000 copies in five weeks after its release. His story about being kicked out of Apple and returning to release a series of creative, innovative products that transformed communication and lifestyles inspired readers, and his passion for work prompted them to reflect on their present and future. “I Am a Singer” (No. 4) veered from conventional TV contests featuring amateurs and celebrity judges and departed from K-pop dominance of idolized young groups and dance music. The program featured seven star singers, who reinterpreted Korean pop classics. The 500-person studio audience did the judging, eliminating one singer every other week. “I Am a Singer” reconfirmed the basic perception of singers as those who actually sing well. The life story of each singer, combined with poetic lyrics, provided even more touching emotions to the audience than other music shows. 2. Global Recognition of Korea: Galaxy S II, K-Pop, 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Korea’s consumer electronics and pop culture once again proved to be hits at home and abroad, lifting the nation’s global profile higher in 2011. Another boost came from securing the 2018 Winter Olympics, which displayed Korea’s sense of perseverance.
Samsung Electronics’ smartphone “Galaxy S II” (No. 5) created a sensation in both domestic and advanced markets, showing the reserved strength of Korea as a global IT power house. Galaxy II sold over 10 million units in the United States and Europe in the first five months of its release. In the domestic market, it sold 1 million units in the first month, the fastest time for a phone to achieve such sales volume. Galaxy S II is faster, clearer and thinner than the previous Galaxy S by adopting Dual-Core 1.2Ghz CPU and Super AMOLED Plus display. Efforts to satisfy tech-savvy Korean consumers bore the fruits.
Following the huge popularity of Korean drama serials around the world, 2011 witnessed K-pop (No. 6) becoming its own music genre around the world with its blend of popular Western-style lyrics and rhythm fashioned in an Asian way. K-pop songs swept the music charts in Japan, Southeast Asia and China, and in France, United Kingdom and Spain, K-pop concerts were sold out,
helping Korea achieve the title of cultural exporter. K-pop’s popularity is attributable to systematic talent training systems and its diversity in music itself. Korean entertainment agencies’ systematic and intensive training nurtures talented aspirants, who practice singing and dancing for many years and learn foreign languages, too. Pyeongchang’s winning bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics (No. 9) gave a deep sense of accomplishment to the nation. Undaunted by failed bids for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, Pyeongchang won by a wide margin in the first round of voting at the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) General Assembly in Durban, South Africa. With the 2018 Winter Olympics, Korea will complete a 30-year arc in being the host nation of the “grand slam” of international sporting events – the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and the IAAF World Championships. The winning bid was attributed to the combined efforts of the people in Gangwon Province, corporate leaders, government officials and Korea’s achievements at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, which included a gold medal for figure skater Kim Yu-na (Yuna Kim), who addressed the IOC in Durban before the vote. 3. Lowering Economic Burden: Kakao Talk, Pension Lottery 520, Tonkeun•Half Price PB Products Products and services that reduced consumers’ economic burden caught their attention. “Kakao Talk” (No. 3), a free text messaging service, became a national smartphone application in a short time. Kakao Talk, created by a
Korean venture, was unveiled in March 2010, first to iPhone users only and then Android phones five months later. In April 2011, there were 10 million Kakao Talk users and by November there were 30 million. Kakao Talkâ€™s success is attributable to its first-mover advantage. It secured a far higher number of members than its competitors by starting free text messaging service first.
The new Pension Lottery 520 (No. 7) became an instant hit when it began in July. Except for the first week, the lotteryâ€™s weekly 6.3 million tickets have sold out every week. Moreover, overall lottery sales rose 16.8 percent, ending three years of dull interest, and were approaching the 3 trillion won mark by the end of 2011.
Instead of a lump sum, Pension Lottery 520 awards the winner five million won per month for 20 years. People in their forties and fifties account for 71 percent of the sales, which are being stoked by a lower tax rate on the lottery and better odds of winning compared to other drawings. In addition, if the winner dies, any remaining winnings can be inherited by his/her spouse and children. Meanwhile, “Tonkeun•Half Price Private Brand (PB) products” (No. 10) likewise won instant popularity with consumers struggling with surging prices. The concept of these products is selling good-quality products at low prices. It started with “Tonkeun Chicken” in Lotte Mart in late 2010, and despite public criticism and opposition from small merchants, the half-price strategy spread beyond food and household goods to electronics and sports goods. By streamlining distribution and minimizing product features, large discount stores have seen their PB product sales rise 25 percent. As weak domestic economic conditions persist, the popularity of Tonkeun·Half Price PB products will only expand as consumers realize that lower prices do not mean lower quality. 4. Attention to the Disadvantaged: Movie ‘Dogani’ During periods of severe economic turmoil, such as the 1997 foreign currency crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis, Koreans pay special attention to the disadvantaged. The movie “Dogani” (No. 8) became a lightning rod for this empathy. The film is based on a bestseller book about actual crimes at a school for the hearing-impaired. The rising influence of online communities became evident
with the movie. Word-of-mouth through the Social Network Service generated interest and was the biggest contributor to the success of the movie, which attracted 4.67 million moviegoers. Online discussions turned attention to irrationalities of society and also sparked uproar over the light sentences handed out to the offenders. Officials subsequently were compelled to close down the school and reconsider related laws. * Co-authored by Kin Jin-hyuk, Baik Chang-suk, Lee Min-hoon, Park Sungbae, Jung Tae-soo, Yang Su-jin, Lee Dong-hun, Ahn Shin-hyun, Hwang Reakook, and Kim Jin-sung [CEO Information, No. 833, December 7, 2011, Samsung Economic Research Institute]
- Renaissance Man: UNESCO Marks 250th Birth Anniversary of Jeong Yakyong - Veggie Korea
Renaissance Man: UNESCO Marks the 250th Birth Anniversary of Jeong Yak-yong
Jeon Byeong-geun Staff Reporter The Chosun Ilbo
“The greatest scholar of Practical Learning (silhak) in the late Joseon period.” “The author of over 500 books.” “The architect of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon.” “Inventor of the geojunggi (heavy stone lifter).” There is an endless array of descriptions for Jeong Yak-yong (1762-1836), also known by his pen name Dasan. Marking the 250th anniversary of his birth, this year is packed with events commemorating this 19th-century “Renaissance Man.” Especially noteworthy is that Dasan’s birth is one of the “anniversaries with which UNESCO is associated in 2012,” signifying that the global village is joining in the tributes to the scholar. Since 2004, UNESCO, the educational, cultural and science institution that is a specialized agency of the United Nations, has published an annual list of “anniversaries associated with
UNESCO” by selecting world historical events and anniversary dates of eminent personalities that fit UNESCO’s philosophy and values. The 250th anniversary of Dasan’s birth is the first Korean anniversary to be included in the list. In 2013, the 400th anniversary of the publication of the “Principles and Practices of Eastern Medicine” (Dongui bogam), the classic encyclopedia of Korean medicine, will be listed. The two events were selected at UNESCO’s general convention held in Paris last October. For this year, UNESCO also selected the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy (France; 1862-1918), the 300th birthday anniversary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (France; 1712-1778) and the 50th anniversary of the death of Herman Hesse (Germany; 1877-1962). Dasan (also spelled “Tasan”), a prominent member of the school of Practical Learning during the late Joseon period, received recognition as a meritorious scholar who identified social ills and introduced reforms. He advocated land distribution based on ideas of equality and appointment to official positions based on ability. He also wrote numerous works on political structural reform and fair distribution of wealth during his 18 years in exile. UNESCO has posted these achievements as part of an introduction to Dasan. In South Korea, the Tasan Cultural Foundation (Chairman: Jeong Hae-chang) has gathered distinguished figures from an array of fields to form a memorial committee (Chairman: Yi U-seong, professor emeritus of Sungkyunkwan University). The planned commemorative events include the Dasan Music Festival in April, as well as exhibitions at the National Museum of Korea and the Museum of Silhak, and an international academic convention. One of the events of academic significance is the publication of “The Authentic Edition of the Complete Works of Yeoyudang” (Yeoyudang being
the post-exilic name of Dasan). Its earlier edition, “The Complete Works of Yeoyudang” (Yeoyudang jeonseo), was handed down in various manuscripts that filled 154 volumes and 76 books. Compiled and published in 1936 by Jeong In-bo and others, it has served as the basis of Dasan studies ever since. However, some sections of the book have a large number of typographical errors, raising doubts regarding Dasan’s authorship. Also, there are other Dasan works that are not included in the anthology. As such, the recently released collection (a total of 37 volumes) has been recompiled to solve these problems, and has been edited so that the text is written horizontally according to the system of Hangeul, the Korean script. An international academic convention will be held on July 5-7, under the theme of “Global Legacy, Dasan Jeong Yak-yong’s Ideas and Projects.” Francoise Julien, a leading French scholar in Asian philosophy and professor at Paris Diderot University, and Yi U-seong, professor emeritus of Sungkyungwan University, are expected to give the keynote lectures. Fifty scholars from Korea and abroad who are involved in Dasan studies will attend the convention. Discussions also have been held about inviting North Korean scholars. Dasan is also revered in North Korea and it reportedly is planning its commemorative events. The Dasan Music Festival is scheduled to be held in the spring and fall. It will feature “Song of Dasan,” a 150-minute creative work of pansori epic chant about Dasan’s thought and life, as well as the original song “O Dasan, O Dasan” and other performances. Hanyang University Professor Jeong Min, who wrote “Dasan Rediscovered” (Humanist publishers), said, “Although Dasan is mainly well-known as a philosopher with a love for the people, which is reflected in his magnum opus
‘Admonitions on Governing the People’ (Mongmin simseo), other aspects of this ‘Renaissance Man’ as an architect and engineer have not been well disseminated.” Professor Jeong also asserted, “Specialists in each field or area should use this anniversary as an opportunity to illuminate Dasan’s life and ideas from diverse perspectives to revive him into rich cultural contents of this era.” [January 4, 2012]
Anne-Maria Cole Worldwide Korean Blogger Kimchisoul.wordpress.com
Bulgogi. Galbi. Samgyeopsal. Essential components of Korean cuisine? I beg to differ. Through a journey of tears, tantrums, learning, discoveries and revelations, I developed an understanding of not only how to survive, but also how to thrive as a veggie in Korea! When I first explained my vegetarian diet to my new Korean colleagues, they were surprised, but also extremely accommodating. They kindly chose something that would be suitable and placed my first restaurant order for me. This was a hot, spicy and hearty soup accompanied by a large pot of rice (that I now know was a simple sundubu dish) and an array of varied, colorful side dishes. A couple of these contained tiny fish, but the rest were completely veggie: spicy radishes, garlicky spinach, deep fried courgettes, bean sprout salad, sweet black beans路路路 I felt like I had landed in veggie heaven!
But it wasn’t always this easy. Next came the challenge of eating without my Korean friends. Unbeknownst to me, my new city Chuncheon was nationally renowned for the deliciousness of its local saucy barbeque chicken, dak galbi, and even had a whole street dedicated solely to this delicacy. Any nonvegetarian newbie happening upon one of these eateries will no doubt have been more than satisfied. For me, on the other hand, it was a real learning process. I tried to explain to the polite and friendly ajumma who served me that “I don’t eat meat. Meat=no!” in English, gesticulating with my hands as though that would enable her to comprehend. She nodded and smiled, which I mistook for an understanding. Soon after, a huge, filled-to-the-brim bowl of delicious dak galbi came my way. As the waitress had been so kind, there was no way I could send the food back. More to the point, it looked absolutely yummy, and smelt really good. The only trouble was that I couldn’t eat it! I sat in the restaurant, hungry and weary, while my friends enjoyed the dak galbi. After a few repeat experiences, something had to be done! And that’s when I decided I wanted to learn Korean. I sat down and studied the Hangeul alphabet, and recited phrases like “gogi anmeogeoyo,” “haemul bbaego juseyo” and “gogi eopneun geollo juseyo.” After a while, I could read a restaurant sign, understand a menu and even order in Korean. Suddenly a whole new world opened up, and I began to uncover a truly Veggie Korea. I was able to identify places serving juk (porridges) and dubu (tofu, bean curd) dishes that suited my needs and tastes far better than BBQ restaurants. And within these, I found the foods that would be the staple of my diet throughout my year of Korean living, and far beyond. Bibimbap was one of my first saving graces, and is my favorite Korean dish to
this day. Not only is it simple yet effective, it’s also beautifully presented, excitingly flavored and versatile. And there are so many versions – a dolsot bibimbap from Jeonju will be very different to one from Seoul or Chuncheon. Other wonderful veggie options included gimbap, kimchi chiggae and dottorimuk. Before long, I also realized that Chuncheon has a second dish of fame: mak guksu. This cold yet chili buckwheat noodle meal was perfect in the summer months, and also, with my spoken Korean phrases, totally veggiefriendly. Obviously, when I returned to London, I took a little bit of Korea with me. I tried to “Find Korea in London” and started my blog Kimchi Soul as a “worldwide Korean blogger” (WKB) for The Korea Blog. I noticed that my blogs about vegetarian Korean food were really popular, even though most of my readers weren’t veggie! I also picked up tips and recipes from other bloggers’ posts. Then my dream came true when I was invited to Korea for The Korea Blog’s WKB tour in October 2011. Not only did I get to meet the other bloggers, I also had the chance to explore areas of Korea I never had before. I decided to take this opportunity to look deeper into the origins of Korean vegetarianism. And where better to do this than the “temple restaurants”? My initial worries that monk’s food would be bland were soon put to shame as the stunningly decorated, diverse, vibrant and delicious dishes were brought out one by one. These included bean curd and soy bean soup, mushroom patties and even fouryear-old baby ginseng! This was undoubtedly the most exciting Korean meal I have ever had. But it was about so much more than just food. This vegan monk’s food is steeped in religion, history and tradition. To Buddhists, eating is an important
and scared ritual rather than a necessity, and this really shows. It occurred to me that Koreans have been eating vegetarian foods for centuries. In fact, it is in these vegan temple restaurants that ancient cooking techniques and eating rituals have been retained. It seems that vegetarianism has found a newly accepted and fashionable place within modern Korean living as a reaction to the recent expansion in fast food culture and fat increases. Today, it’s easier than ever to be a vegetarian in Korea, and I’m certain that the Korean veggie community will continue to grow and evolve rapidly. Although I no longer live there, my passion for Korean culture lives on, and I still cook Korean food at home and eat out London Korean restaurants. No vegetarian person should shy away from Korean food, and all should rest assured that there’s a wealth of delicious delights for us to enjoy. And though I wouldn’t wish any meat-eater to ditch the BBQ, I would urge even the most carnivorous foodie to take the plunge and try a completely vegetarian Korean meal sometime. You never know, you may be pleasantly surprised! [JoongAng Ilbo, January 6, 2012]
- Readying for Rapid Unification Process and Post-Unification Politics - Neo-Confucian Scholars Addicted to Architecture
Readying for Rapid Unification Process and Post-Unification Politics
Jeon Byeong-geun Staff Reporter The Chosun Ilbo
“For the Evolution of Engagement Policy” By Kim Keun-sik, Hanul Publishing Group, 328 pages, 27,000 won The process of German unification was indeed a huge tsunami. The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, and in less than a year Germany was officially unified. The German governments on both sides of the wall initially took extremely cautious stances toward the issue of unification. East German Communist Party leader Egon Krenz promised to maintain socialism and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl avoided mention of unification. Chancellor Kohl’s 10-step plan for unification, announced on November 28 of the same year, laid out step-by-step measures, starting with closer cooperation, then a confederation and finally a federation.
People on the streets thought otherwise, however. East Germans were already leaning heavily toward integration with West Germany. Voices were heard in Leipzig and regions throughout East Germany calling out for unification. Their slogans quickly changed from “Wir sind das Volk” (We are the people), symbolizing the democratization of East Germany, to “Wir sind ein Volk” (We are one people”) demanding unification. The first free elections held in East Germany on March 18, 1990, determined that five East German states become part of West Germany according to Article 23 of the West German Basic Act. The two Germanys were united through absorption unexpectedly, abruptly and unilaterally. Once the “unification train” was set in motion, it drowned out voices of prudence calling for a transition for coexistence of the two Germanys before reunification. During the similar period, two other divided states situated on the Arabian Peninsula were going through a difficult process of unification. In April 1990, when North and South Yemen agreed on unification, the process was proceeding smoothly. It was agreed that 30 months of transition under a single government would precede general elections and finally a unified government. The transition period, however, became stained by political strife arising from mistrust. The general elections were held three years later. North Yemen with a much larger territory, population and economic power won a landslide victory, but South Yemen did not give in. It was only after a civil war ended with North Yemen’s conquest of the southern capital in July 1994 that the two states were truly unified. The author meticulously traces the two trajectories of unification that were as much different as they were similar and reaches a harsh conclusion: “No
matter how rationally and reasonably designed, the actual unification process does not proceed as planned. Once the process starts, a phased, incremental and transient coexistence seems impossible in reality···In reality, the unification is not symmetrical for both parties. It does not follow mutual agreement; rather, power dynamics is at play and abrupt unification by absorption is the norm.” What about Korea? The author says, “Even if there is an incremental, peaceful reunification process, the ultimate systemic integration will most likely require one party to undergo fundamental change and be absorbed into the other party.” It is only when inevitably one side renounces its system and immerses itself into the other that the two sides can live together and finally declare unification complete. The author emphasizes, “To be realistic, we need to implement an incremental, peaceful reunification process targeting the soft landing of North Korea and when the time comes, we need to be ready for abrupt and absorptive reunification triggered by regime collapse. In order to keep ourselves from going down Yemen’s road and to follow Germany’s peaceful method, we need to exert much effort and put in place possible measures.” What was Germany’s secret? According to the author, German unification also involved absorption, but it was made possible by frequent exchanges and reconciliation that had occurred over 20 years prior to the unification. He claims: “Before the two Koreas are swept up in political dynamics, they must be trained in mutual recognition and understanding.” The author is a progressive scholar who has long been supporting the “sunshine policy” toward the North. He devotes most of his book to discussing the reason why the South needs to “engage the North, not contain it.” However, what catches the readers’ attention is the fact that he discusses the
possibility of measures for absorptive unification that have thus far been touted exclusively by conservatives. This is a heavy question that both progressives and conservatives alike must answer. Are we ready for the bumpy ride ahead that reunification is bound to entail?
“Korean Democracy after Unification” By Kang Won-taek, Nanam Publishing House, 192 pages, 14,000 won In April 1954, soon after the truce of the Korean War, North and South Korea clashed again in Geneva, Switzerland, where they met to hold talks. Included in the agenda were Korean peninsula reunification measures. Seoul asserted that the seats in the National Assembly be divided in proportion to population, whereas Pyongyang insisted upon “equal representation” of both sides. South Korean Foreign Minister Byun Young-tae (Byeon Yeong-tae) said that it violated democratic principles to allow equal number of seats in the National Assembly when North Korea represented only one-seventh of the total population on the Korean peninsula. North Korean Foreign Minister Nam Il
countered Byun’s argument, citing the U.S. Congress as an example. “Although the population varies from state to state, all states are represented equally in the Senate. It should be that way for the Koreas,” he said. The two Koreas had argued over the same issue nine years before. Immediately after liberation from the Japanese colonial rule, the South insisted that
representation system, while the North was consistently against the idea. What if the two Koreas were to come to the table now? Their population, as of 2009, was 48.75 million in the South and 24.06 million in the North. Provided that parliamentary seats are allocated in proportion to population, the South will have twice as many than the North. Should the two sides repeat the same argument again? The author asks, “Let’s say that, one day all of a sudden, the two Koreas come to be united to live under a single system. What political system would lead to smooth integration?” He suggests that everyone be cool-headed about it, saying, “Korean unification is no longer about what we need to do to return to where we were. Realistic approaches are needed because it is about how to integrate two heterogeneous societies which have pursued different values for more than 60 years.” He adds, “Even if unification is achieved under the South’s initiatives, the political system should be designed in ways to not make the North Koreans feel isolated or victimized because they are numerically inferior.” The basic framework of governance presented for “reunified Korea” comprises federalism, bicameral legislature and cabinet system. Federalism was long considered North Korea’s tactic for achieving unification under communism. However, the author notes that the South Korean government’s view of reunification has recently changed toward ensuring autonomy at the sub-unit
level as in the form of confederation or federation. It is because such a system would help recognize disparities between the two sides that have arisen from prolonged division and at the same time enable integration at a higher level. One significant difference is that the author firmly believes that free democracy and market economy should be the basic institutions for both sides, whereas North Korea’s Koryo confederation system envisions “one state and two systems.” The bicameral system is a device to ensure equal political representation for the two Koreas. The lower house will be subject to proportional representation and the upper house to equal representation. This is to prevent North Korea from becoming a perpetual minority because of its smaller population. The cabinet system will be more beneficial than imperial presidency to a heterogeneous society. This will likely invite further debate in academia. The author focuses, above all, on the role of political parties in the unification process. “Because North Korea has had no experience in party politics,” he says, “the post-unification political integration will inevitably be led by South Korean parties.” Political parties play pivotal roles in absorbing varied social conflicts into the system and creating stable power through competition. German unification is a case in point where East Germans opted for unification in free elections but West German political parties’ intervention was a deciding factor in realizing unification. Thus, the East German politics was “West Germanized” and party politics of the two Germanys became compatible. The author says that South Korean political parties have a responsibility to help the North Korean residents overcome the confusion in the process of unification and educate them in democratic values and institutions. The question is whether the existing parties have the competence and will to carry
out their responsibility. Currently they even expose vulnerability to extraparliamentary politics in the Internet arena. The author warns that if the South Korean political parties fail to rise above their current limitations as regional parties, they may confront even harsher realities after unification, with North Korean regional parties emerging. The book’s title concerns “post-unification democracy,” but it makes the reader look back at the state of “pre-unification democracy” as well. [December 24, 2011]
Neo-Confucian Scholars Addicted to Architecture
Gu Bon-jun Staff Reporter The Hankyoreh
“Ancient Houses Seen Through Philosophy” Written by Ham Seong-ho, Photography by Yu Dong-myeong, Yolimwon Publishing Group, 331 pages, 15,000 won Architect Ham Seong-ho, who perfectly fits the bill for “jack of all trades,” is a published poet, comics critic and cultural event planner. Well-known for being no less active in writing than building houses, he recently put out “Ancient Houses Seen Through Philosophy.” He starts out by stating that ancient houses that are now regarded as masterpieces of traditional Korean architecture were built by great Neo-Confucian scholars. And, as the title suggests, he indeed goes on to analyze the houses from a philosophical perspective. Readers may think that philosophy and architecture are too much to handle at
once. And Neo-Confucianism, at that? No need to fear, though. The book focuses on storytelling; stories about houses people inhabited are complemented by stories about the old days, narrating what was on their mind as they built the houses and how they enjoyed their lives. The author uses the word “addiction” to express the Neo-Confucian scholars’ attachment to architecture. He cites the Dongnakdang of Yi Eon-jeok (1491-1553, pen name Hoejae); Dosan Academy of Yi Hwang (1501-1570, Toegye); Nogudang of Yun Seon-do (1587-1671, Gosan); and Chodang of Jeong Yak-yong (17621836, Dasan). The author’s approach to these houses built by great scholars belies expectation. He does not bother to discuss such stereotypical architectural details as the types of columns or bracket systems, most often considered puzzling features of Korean traditional houses. He does not try either to relate the houses to the socioeconomic situation in which they were built. Instead he propounds his view that Korean architecture has maintained a consistent style of its own regardless of the changing times, so it can hardly be classified into distinct styles of different historical periods. Philosophy, or more precisely Neo-Confucianism of the Joseon Dynasty, created such an idiosyncrasy in Korean architecture. The author emphasizes that this school of Confucian thought is not unlike “a poet’s artless and delicate mind.” This is the reason why these houses must be viewed from the outside not from within, he says. For example, the author takes the reader to the old house of Song Si-yeol (1607-1689, Uam), named Amseojae, built amid scenic rocks. He first stares at the house from the front, and next erases the house in his mind’s eye to observe the site before the house was built. This is how the reader can enter the mind of its ancient owner and designer. Why did he pick the site for his
house? What was his academic and political situation at the time? In this way the reader can trace back to the thought the ancient scholar wanted to contain in his house. Then the author tells the life story of Song Si-yeol as a NeoConfucian scholar, drawing a conclusion that he built this house amid a political dilemma to bide time and grope for a way to make a comeback. Imijeong of Kim Jang-saeng (1548-1631) represented its owner’s realistic pursuit of discretion and prudence, and Dosan Academy reflected the view of a philosopher who considered the garden more important than the house. The old house of Yun Jeung (1629-1714) in Nonsan is imbued with Yun’s brave spirit, defying the predominant influence of Zhu Xi. The author says that the most unique Neo-Confucian scholar-architect of Joseon was Yi Eon-jeok, who used poetry as a blueprint to build his house Dongnakdang, or the House of Solitary Enjoyment. Readers may catch a glimpse of his thoughts from 11th-century Chinese politician Sima Guang’s “Duleyuan ji,” which is about his “garden of solitary enjoyment.” Yi empathized with Sima, who had been under similar circumstances and designed his own house based on his poem. While following the author’s reasoning and explanation, the reader realizes that each of the ancient houses epitomizes the philosophical thought of a scholar – the world he dreamed of and the ideals he wanted his house to express. [December 3, 2011]
- Kim Sung-hwan: “Nuclear terrorism should be prevented by all means.”
Kim Sung-hwan: “Nuclear terrorism should be prevented by all means.”
No Hyo-dong & Jeong Myo-jeong Staff Reporters Yonhap News Agency
“Nuclear terrorist attacks would result in utter devastation. The international community should work together to prevent them at all costs,” said Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. In an interview with the Yonhap News Agency, held just 100 days before the second Nuclear Security Summit slated for March 2627, in Seoul, Minister Kim called for the public to have a better understanding of the severity of potential nuclear threats. “For example, a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant would cause radioactive leaks, causing problems related to both nuclear security and nuclear safety. In this sense, the two issues are so inseparably interconnected that the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will address both issues,” he said. Excerpts from questions and answers follow: Q. As the chief of the preparatory secretariat for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear
Security Summit, would you explain the significance and role of the gathering? A. The summit will discuss international cooperative measures needed to ensure nuclear security. Its objective is to increase international cooperation in keeping nuclear materials from spreading into the hands of terrorists in order to prevent subsequent disasters. Especially, the summit will discuss concrete steps to be taken to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium, which is the most dangerous nuclear material, and to develop technologies to support such efforts. The summit will also urge the states in possession of hazardous nuclear materials to put under scrutiny by the international community.â€? Q. The danger of nuclear terrorism has yet to be recognized by the general public in Korea. What is the level of imminence of such attacks in the international community? A. The increasing public awareness campaign does not necessarily imply that the authorities have detected terrorist groups that are actually plotting such attacks. In view of the huge cost of potential misuse of nuclear power by terrorist groups or a failure in keeping atomic energy safe, all preventive efforts should be made by all means, at all costs. Some U.S. dramas have described terrorists attacking nuclear facilities. These imaginary situations might actually materialize unless appropriate preventive measures are taken. It is important to raise public awareness. Q. Following the leaks of highly radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, Korean people are also concerned about the safety of local nuclear facilities. A. Experts say technologies used for Fukushima facilities had been somewhat
outdated. In comparison, Korean nuclear power plants have been built with more advanced technologies. Safety examinations conducted by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) have rated Korean nuclear power plants as among the world’s best. Korea has constructed the largest number of atomic energy facilities in the world during the past three decades. In the process, Korea’s experience and know-how has accumulated, and technological advancement followed. We are also building nuclear power plants abroad thanks to our widely recognized technological prowess. To ensure the safe use of atomic energy, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission was also established under the direct auspices of the Presidential Office in October last year. Q. What is the Korean government’s basic position concerning nuclear power generation as a major energy resource? It is a highly controversial issue around the world. A. After the crisis in Fukushima, some countries vowed to suspend operations at their local nuclear power plants. However, given that the use of fossil fuels is costly and detrimental to the environment due to greenhouse gas emissions, an increase in the use of atomic energy is inevitable. All due safety measures should be taken to ensure safe nuclear energy. Q. President Lee Myung-bak expressed his willingness to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to the Seoul summit, but Pyongyang did not respond. A. The invitation was made on the condition that North Korea abides by its obligations pertaining to the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program. In that sense, the invitation was an expression of the South’s political will to reopen the stalled six-party nuclear negotiations.
Q. How does the Seoul summit approach the North Korean nuclear issue? A. Basically, the Nuclear Security Summit is not a forum designed to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue. It is the six-party talks that primarily deal with the North’s denuclearization. To some extent, the Seoul summit is expected to add pressure on the North to halt its uranium enrichment program if the world’s leaders during the summit agree to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium worldwide. Q. Do you expect the North to return to the six-party negotiating table before the Seoul summit? A. It would be helpful for peace and stabilization on the Korean peninsula, if the North returns to the six-party talks by, first of all, suspending its uranium enrichment program and implementing preliminary measures toward nuclear disarmament. However, at the moment it is difficult to predict when the talks will resume. Q. When do you expect the third round of the inter-Korean denuclearization talks will take place? A. Preferably before the end of this year. However, the schedule has to be negotiated between the two parties. Even though talks [for resuming the negotiations] are under way and both sides are making efforts, whether we would have a fruitful result to such efforts is a different matter. Q. Do you find some positive signals from the North’s stance toward denuclearization? For example, has Pyongyang demonstrated some flexibility?
A. The governments involved in the six-party talks, including Seoul and Washington, are persuading North Korea to resume negotiations. We all hope Pyongyang will consider such requests seriously. Q. What are the additional measures to be taken by the South Korean government against Iranâ€™s alleged nuclear weapons program? A. South Korea has participated in the international initiative to impose sanctions against Iran. Related measures will follow to be carried out by the Korean government. However, we will first work on things that can be readily implemented, taking into account their potentially adverse impact on our business and economy. Additional steps will be also taken in due time. By the end of this month the Korean government plans to announce a set of punitive measures against Iran that are readily applicable. [December 11, 2011]
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