Friday, October 13, 2006


I'm at Incheon airport just outside of Seoul and getting ready to head back to the States. The timing of this trip made for an interesting week. North Korea tested, or at least claimed to have tested, a Nuclear bomb while I was in the air on my way to South Korea. I wasn't too worried but it was odd reading about this situation as I was in the air over the Pacific.

The day I landed there was quite a bit of discussion but no one seemed too distressed by the news. The papers and local press were going crazy and the international press based in Asia issued numerous editorials about who to blame and where accountability should be held. Needless to say opinions ranged from North Korea being a country that continually tests the limits of what other nations will tolerate to this being a direct failure of the Bush administration.

One of the days at lunch I started to ask the locals what they thought of the news. I was quite surprised to hear that they unaniomously said the US should talk directly to North Korea. They said the 6 party talks won't work, because North Korea won't let them, and that the US is the only country that is in a position too give North Korea the audience they want. When I asked them what do they want, they suggested that all they want is the ability to a respected worldwide power. And until they feel they have the respect of the world they will continue to put out these challenges.

I equated this to North Korea being a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum. Surprisngly they all agreed and they added the key is to figure out what the 2 year old really wants. A very interesting conversation. To be in a country when world history is being recorded and to get local insight was quite an opportunity. They all said they don't see any threat to South Korea from North Korea and that all North Korea wants is attention. However the table of people were not in agreement on how South Korea's government should respond regarding sanctions, or suspension of the "Sunshine Policy". They just wanted the US to come in and lead the diplomacy.

The rest of the week quickly returned to business as usual and by Friday there was hardly a mention of the crisis on TV or in the papers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dave, nice post. It's nice to hear that the S. Koreans are not worried for their safety. Common sense tells me that N. Korea has no long term benefit in attacking/harming S. Korea.

The issue of the rest of the world is N. Korea's propensity to proliferate weapons.


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