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Where’s the foreign policy at?

In a column in the Dong-A Ilbo, Jung-Ang University professor Kim Tae-hyeon writes that foreign policy has been worryingly absent from the Korean presidential campaign. The candidates have been largely silent on foreign policy issues such as North Korea, relations with the United States and China, the Jeju naval base, etc., largely—as he sees it—because politically, there’s nothing to gain (and in fact, something to lose) by discussing foreign policy, and because foreign policy debates could cause unnecessary diplomatic problems.

Kim’s sentiments were reflected in this morning’s Dong-A editorial calling for the candidates to put forth their foreign policy ideas. In particular, the Dong-A wants to see “creative policies that will substantively transform North Korea,” and warns that while all three candidates are promising to lead North Korea policy in a different direction from LMB, the primary cause of the current impasse with Pyongyang is not LMB’s policies, but North Korean aggression. IMHO, the Dong-A is dead-on about the cause of the miserable state of inter-Korean relations, but if they want “creative policies that will substantively transform North Korea,” it’s going to be a long wait.

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  • yuna

    Ahn sort of expressed a 누이좋고 매부 좋고 opnion on the Jeju Naval Base, he said that even if it had been the previous government’s idea, the current government should apologize.

    On the article linked, I think it is the relative, subjective nature (i.e. it depends on the action of the other country) that is the main limiting factor that the candidates are saving their words.

    즉 대외적으로 상대가 있는 문제이니, 자칫 불필요한 외교적 문제를 야기할 수 있고 따라서 침묵도 나쁘지 않다는 주장이 나온다.

    And I personally see this as a good thing. I don’t think that candidates (including the US ones) should be using their stance on neighbouring countries (it’s usually the “we’ll be tough on x,y,z” that gets the votes) to get votes. Also, from LMB, we have seen what they say (even during the actual term) and what they do are completely different things. I mean, his Dokdo visit came as a 아닌밤에 홍두깨 to most Koreans.

  • R. Elgin

    the primary cause of the current impasse with Pyongyang is not LMB’s policies, but North Korean aggression.

    Exactly. Money and policy can affect human behaviour, as an incentive but change would take something different and no one here has the vision or ability to effect such.