Or so President Lee told the Chosun Ilbo.
In an interview with Korea’s paper of record, Lee said after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeongdo in November 2010, he told China that from now on, he would use the Army, Navy and Air Force to retaliate against not only the source of any North Korean provocation, but also support units as well. He also told the Chinese to tell this to the North Koreans, which they did during Dai Bingguo subsequent visit to Pyongyang.
He said this because he believed North Korea does what it does because it thinks the Americans won’t let the South retaliate (Marmot’s Note: He’s probably right about this, which makes the situation even more dangerous since even the long-suffering South Korean military can take only so much shit from the North Koreans. One of these days, they’re going to snap).
Seemingly proving his point, Lee said at the time of the Yeonpyeongdo Incident, he ordered the Air Force to strike North Korean targets, but a high-ranking military official blocked him, saying that the Air Force mustn’t get involved per the rules of engagement, and that they needed to consult with the Americans.
Lee said he later corrected the rules of engagement so that commanders on the ground could respond immediately and make their reports later. He also said the Americans at first opposed Lee’s plan to expand retaliation to support units, but the Koreans got their way in the end thanks to strong persuasion.
Lee said the most heartbreaking incident during his term was the loss of 46 sailors in the Cheonan sinking. He said it hurt when the men were killed, and it hurt again when people said the attack was staged.
When asked what he was most proud of, it was that Korea maintained plus growth when the world was experiencing minus growth due to the economic crisis. He said the world recognized this, and this made Korea the chair of the G20 summit.
Despite pressure from incoming President Park Geun-hye, outgoing President Lee Myung-bak pardoned 55 people anyway this morning, including several close friends and allies.
My personal favorite recipient of this morning’s generosity is Choi See-Joong, the former chairman of the Korea Communications Commission who was convicted of bribery despite the crocodile tears. This is the same guy who awarded the Chosun Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo, and JoongAng Ilbo cable TV stations and wanted to pass a cyber-defamation law following the “Minerva” case. In fact, where there’s been media policy-related controversy over the last five years, his name can often be found attached to it.
I’m guessing this won’t be enough:
President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday made a public apology for his brother’s involvement in receiving bribes from savings banks.
“Fellow Koreans, disgraceful incidents have recently happened to my family and surroundings and caused so much anxiety to people,” Lee said.
“I bow my head and extend my apology for causing anxiety to people due to these incidents.”
No deep bow this time, but President Lee did get a hug.
(HT to Charlie)
He might not understand why its such a terrible idea, but LMB has mercifully pledged not to push the grand canal project during his term.
The river restoration project is still a go, though. And the Hani is less than impressed.
The title of this post is how I opened my latest epic at the Korea Times.
For those too lazy to read the whole thing, here is a recipe for how Lee came back from the depths of June:
- Take a public apology from MBC for bogus reporting in its “PD Notebook” show
- Stir in some tougher police work on the remaining hard-core protesters to make conservatives happy
- Borrow some spices from the brother’s up North (in this case, unnecessary intransigence in refusing a joint investigation into the killing of a South Korean tourist by North Korean guards)
- Add a little Dokdo
- …and a little more Dokdo
- …and a little more Dokdo
- Have President Bush add a little more Dokdo
- Toss in a commitment on the visa waiver program with the US
- Leave out a public commitment of Korean troops to Afghanistan
- Put an Olympic lid on the pot to seal in the flavor
Most of those ingredients were foreign policy issues. Lee still has some work cut out on the domestic front, especially the economy.
BTW: For folks who follow Korean issues pretty closely, which I guess would be about half of the readers here at the Hole, the piece will seem to spend too much time reviewing the summer’s events. The problem is that these pieces also have to be understood by folks who might not have as much background information and who may want to find out more.