The progressive Kyunghyang Shinmun is taking the Foreign Ministry and security-related bodies to task for behaving excessively anti-North Korean and pro-American, saying it reveals obsolete Cold War attitudes.
Firstly, the Kyunghyang took exception with a notice sent to 10 Korean diplomatic legations overseas asking that Korean travelers refrain from using North Korean restaurants.
The embassies had posted notices on their homepages saying that spending money in North Korean restaurants was the same as giving financial support to strengthen the North Korean dictatorship and strengthen its military, and that North Korea uses funds from overseas to maintain its dictatorship and strengthen its military, including the development of nuclear weapons and missiles. The posted notices also said the workers at such restaurants get only about 10—30% of the total, which they receive in won, with all the foreign currency going to the regime. If you use North Korean restaurants, it warned, you make it so that North Korean citizens must continue to moan in pain.
The notices were pulled down after the Kyunghyang started looking into them. An official from the Foreign Ministry told the paper that they were sent out to keep South Korean travelers from potential harm, but given the content of said notices, the Kyunghyang ain’t buying it. It called the notices “very provocative.”
The Kyunghyang also pointed to comments made by Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan, who on June 15 said in comments directed towards Americans that he was sure the Korea—US alliance was a mutual and lasting one based on shared values rather than one based on cold calculations of national interest. He also said the Korea—US alliance would involve even more interest, support and difficult decisions, but we would pay this as the natural cost accompanying the development of the alliance.
The Kyungyang said these statements, as they make the alliance itself the goal rather than making it a tool to promote the national interest, would make uncomfortable China and North Korea, whose values differ from those of South Korea and the United States, and bring to mind Cold War rhetoric.
Marmot’s Note: Well, when you’re faced with a never ending assault on your “pro-North Korean” elements, you’ve got to fight back somehow.
Still, I’m not sure if attacking a guy for stating the obvious—that the alliance with the United States is based on more than just cold interest calculations—is the way to go. Not when you’ve got late President Roh saying this in 2005:
At this meeting, we were able to reaffirm that the Korea-U.S. alliance, based on the common values of democracy and market economy, is strong and that it is developing into a comprehensive, dynamic and mutually beneficial alliance.
To be fair, I’m sure those elements within the progressives who, one would imagine, dream of turning Korea into some sort of East Asian Venezuela probably needed smelling salts after hearing Roh, too. Especially considering he said it standing next to President Bush.