Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kim Chong il, the man in the news

Spring is time for rebirth, for renewal. On this Sunday which Christians celebrate the resurrection of their Saviour, the august 'Financial Times of London', sees fit to feature the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK]'s chairman Kim Chong il as 'man in the news'. The column is signed by the FT's man in Seoul Christian Oliver.
Why spotlight Mr. Kim? Well for one thing after months of not appearing in public, shrouded in announcement of his imminent death, in the inner struggles among Mr. Kim's heirs for ascending to their father's place, in any number of 'what's if's' and other fanciful notions, Kim Il Sung has lifted the veil at a party congress. He came to acknowledge his unanimous re election as his country's leader.
And we see a much slimmer but very much a living and breathing and magnetic Mr. Kim!
His appearance comes in the glow of the DPRK's launch of telecommunication satellite on the much feared [among Mr. Kim's neighbours and the US] long range Taepodong 2 rocket. It's success in putting the satellite into space remains problemmatic. But that's besides the point: it clearly shows leaps in the development of Pyongyang's rocketry.
This said, Mr. Oliver picks up on the threads of the motley garment Mr. Kim's detractors love to knit. He is easy to hate; to mock; to diminish. And Oliver dwells on Mr. Kim's health, conspiring if Mr. Kim's leadership is in doubt. FT's 'man in the news' comes up with the usual suspects who keep repeating the same old worn lines, like hack actors in a bad play.
But talk about a way to resolve differences between the DPRK and its neighbours and the US, heaven forefend! A taboo subject if ever there is one. As the Republic of Korea's president Lee Myung bak blows arctic cold towards the North, by ending the 'Sunshine policy', and launching a revived cold war; as Japan, turning more nationalistic and veering to the right, looks to impose newer sanctions against the DPRK; as the US fiddles as to whither it should go, with the dogs of the old cold war barking at Washington's heels, nowhere is there discussion of outstanding issues which would lessen tensions with a determined eye to solve matters. Everyone knows the answer, but Mr. Kim's negotiating partners, namely, Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington, lack the political will.
Washington won't talk to Pyongyang unless dragged and kicking to the table, as the DPRK's nuclear test showed. It is not necessary to recite a rosary of sorrows of missed opportunities.
Let's simply say, there is no other solution than through negotiations, short of increased tensions and outbursts which might trigger a larger conflict.
It's time to calm nuclear waters and look towards ending the Korean war with a peace treaty, and put the divided Korean issue finally to bed and to rest! Anything short of that continues the long sad situation that we all full well know!
And in this time of the earth's renewal, let the flowers of negotiation bloom!

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