News

 

DATE=12/23/97

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

NUMBER=5-38522

TITLE=SOUTH KOREA - NORTH KOREA

BYLINE=ROGER WILKISON

DATELINE=BEIJING

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:  



INTRO:  A  DAY AFTER BEING ELECTED PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA, KIM 

DAE-JUNG SAID HE FAVORS A SUMMIT WITH NORTH KOREA AND WILL  GIVE 

PRIORITY TO A DIRECT DIALOGUE WITH HIS COUNTRY'S COMMUNIST  

NEIGHBOR.  BUT, AS V-O-A'S ROGER WILKISON REPORTS, SOUTH KOREA'S 

ECONOMIC CRISIS IS LIKELY TO DIMINISH ITS ABILITY TO BACK UP ANY 

DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE WITH AID AND INVESTMENT FUNDS.



TEXT:  DESPITE THEIR MUTUAL ANIMOSITY, SOUTH KOREA HAD BEEN 

PLANNING TO SEND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN AID AND ECONOMIC 

DEVELOPMENT TO NORTH KOREA, IN EXCHANGE FOR A MORE OPEN AND LESS 

HOSTILE ATTITUDE ON THE PART OF PYONGYANG. BUT DIPLOMATS AND 

OTHER ANALYSTS IN SEOUL AND BEIJING SAY THE COUNTRY'S ECONOMIC 

CRISIS NOW RULES OUT ANYTHING OF THE KIND.



SOUTH KOREA NEEDS ALL ITS RESOURCES TO AVOID BANKRUPTCY, DESPITE 

A  57-BILLION DOLLAR BAILOUT LED BY THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY 

FUND.   SOUTH KOREAN CORPORATIONS ARE BUSY TRIMMING BACK ON COSTS

AND  INVESTMENTS TO AVERT COLLAPSE, INSTEAD OF LOOKING TO EXPAND 

TO THE NORTH AS THEY WERE ONLY THREE MONTHS AGO.



THE FOUR-PARTY PEACE TALKS BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA, CHINA 

AND THE UNITED STATES THAT GOT UNDERWAY IN GENEVA TWO WEEKS AGO 

WOULD ORDINARILY BE FRONT-PAGE NEWS IN SEOUL.  BUT THE MEETING 

WAS  COMPLETELY OVERSHADOWED BY THE FREE FALL IN SOUTH KOREA'S 

CURRENCY AND STOCK MARKETS.  ALTHOUGH PROGRESS AT THE TALKS WAS 

MINIMAL, DIPLOMATS ARE HAPPY THAT NORTH KOREA AT LEAST SHOWED UP.



DIPLOMATS SAY THE LONG-TERM GOAL OF KOREAN REUNIFICATION HAS ALSO

PROBABLY BEEN SET BACK A NUMBER OF YEARS.  SOUTH KOREAN NATIONAL 

UNIFICATION BOARD SPOKESMAN KIM YOUNG-MIN SAYS THAT FIRST, A 

PERMANENT PEACE AGREEMENT HAS TO REPLACE THE CEASEFIRE THAT HAS 

EXISTED ALONG THE COLD WAR'S LAST FRONTIER FOR THE PAST 44 YEARS.



         /////KIM ACT/////



 UNIFICATION IS IMPORTANT AND OUR ULTIMATE GOAL.  PEACE IS THE 

PREREQUISITE FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT TOWARD UNIFICATION.  SO 

REGARDLESS OF THE TIME SCHEDULE, IT IS THE ABSOLUTE TASK WHICH 

SHOULD BE DONE BEFORE THE ATTEMPT AT UNIFICATION.



           /////END ACT/////



DIPLOMATS SAY NEITHER OF THE TWO KOREA'S IS IN ANY HURRY FOR 

REUNIFICATION.  THEY SAY BOTH SIDES HAVE RECOILED IN HORROR AT 

THE GERMAN EXPERIENCE -- THE NORTH KOREANS BECAUSE THEY SAW EAST 

GERMANY'S FORMER COMMUNIST LEADERS GO ON TRIAL, AND THE SOUTH 

KOREANS BECAUSE OF THE TREMENDOUS COST INVOLVED.  UNIFICATION 

BOARD SPOKESMAN KIM YOUNG-MIN SAYS THE GERMAN CASE SHOWS 

REUNIFICATION IS NOT EASY.



            /////KIM ACT TWO/////



 WE HAVE LEARNED QUITE A PRECIOUS LESSON FROM THE GERMAN 

UNIFICATION  CASE, AND WE WITNESSED THAT...THE POSITIVE EFFECT OF

UNIFICATION IS QUITE COSTLY AND SOMETIMES PAINFUL.



           /////END ACT/////



NORTH KOREA HAS STILL NOT RESPONDED TO PRESIDENT-ELECT KIM'S  

PROPOSAL.  ALTHOUGH SOME ANALYSTS BELIEVE IT CREATES NEW  

POSSIBILITIES FOR BUILDING MUTUAL TRUST, OTHERS SAY NORTH KOREA 

IS SO UNPREDICTABLE THAT --EVEN IF A THAW COMES--IT MAY TAKE A 

LONG TIME TO DEVELOP.



SUH JAE-JEAN, A RESEARCH ASSOCIATE AT SEOUL'S 

GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED NATIONAL UNIFICATION INSTITUTE, IS ONE OF 

THE SKEPTICS.  HE BELIEVES NORTH KOREA IS NOT READY FOR SERIOUS 

PEACE TALKS BECAUSE ITS GOVERNMENT NEEDS THE IMAGE OF AN ENEMY IN

THE SOUTH TO MAINTAIN CONTROL OVER ITS OWN PEOPLE.



          /////SUH ACT/////



 IF NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA START TO DISCUSS THE PEACE MEASURES, 

THE PEACE  FRAMEWORK ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA, I THINK NORTH KOREA

WILL LOSE THE ISSUES IT NEEDS FOR SOCIAL CONTROL IN NORTH KOREA.



         /////END ACT/////



NORTH KOREA HAS ITS OWN DEEP-SEATED CRISIS, STEMMING FROM THREE 

YEARS  OF NATURAL DISASTERS COMBINED WITH MISMANAGEMENT OF ITS 

COLLECTIVE  AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM.  DIPLOMATS IN SEOUL AND BEIJING 

ESTIMATE THAT HALF A MILLION PEOPLE HAVE DIED THERE FROM CAUSES 

RELATED TO LACK OF FOOD.



RED CROSS OFFICIALS FROM BOTH KOREA'S ARE IN BEIJING THIS WEEK  

DISCUSSING FURTHER FOOD AID FOR THE NORTH, BUT A GOVERNMENT 

OFFICIAL  IN SEOUL ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IN HIS 

COUNTRY WILL  HAVE, WHAT HE CALLED, AN INFLUENCE ON SOUTH KOREA'S

ABILITY TO AID ITS COMMUNIST NEIGHBOR. (SIGNED)



NEB/RW/FC



23-Dec-97 12:36 AM EST (0536 UTC)

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Source: Voice of America

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