Korean Foreign Ministry acts spinelessly


May 13, 2016

Third Rate Diplomacy: Korean Foreign Ministry acts spinelessly

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Seoul. (Yonhap)

We can’t but wonder whether it is proper to use taxes to pay the wages of our diplomats who appear incompetent at best and engrossed in self-interest at worst, concerning their response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to visit Hiroshima.

The way the Ministry reacted to this rather anticipated affair is not just disappointing but, worse, makes the Korean people feel a sense of shame. The diplomats should have more clearly stated the country’s stance, asking for the public’s understanding, if necessary, or using the Obama plan to call attention to Japan’s wartime atrocities and warn against Japan’s efforts to feign as the victim of World War II. (Remembering that FDR declared the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as, “A day that will live in infamy,” it would make him turn over in his grave to see the Japanese pleas of victimhood today.).

Our diplomats should look no further than Beijing ― warning Japan not to use the Obama visit as a ruse to whitewash its colonial rule of barbarism, while refraining from directly raising any issues about the visit itself in its apparent consent for the need of a nuclear-free world Obama’s visit symbolizes.

In contrast, the Korean Ministry, in its official response, tried to emphasize that Washington had consulted with Seoul in the process of the Obama decision. The government was most concerned about a public that would feel easily slighted by the United States and the political opposition, now in control of the National Assembly, which would use it against the government. The Ministry would claim its action is restrained by a more important need to keep the U.S. and Japan on the same page as it is for the ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

This usual litany of excuses would mean the Foreign Ministry has their priorities in the wrong order, revealing they are still stuck in an inferiority complex that was overcome by the rest of the nation before the new millennium.

Just in case they don’t know, their top priority should be to act boldly in the nation’s interest and for the pride of the people on the basis of popular consent. Its behavior, however, exhibits nothing of the above. In other words, the ministry ended up insulting the people’s intelligence and let go of a chance to build national consensus and keep pressing Washington or Beijing. Rhetorically, the statement deserves scrutiny only for it is used as a bad example.

Through an anonymous official, a method that gives the impression of the lack of transparency and confidence, the Ministry said without identifying who was making the statement, “President Obama’s decision was made on the basis of his conviction in pursuing global peace and stability through a nuclear-free world.”

It sounded as if Seoul was a bystander in the Obama decision contrary to the Ministry’s insistence that it was consulted but didn’t share his vision, when Korea could be the biggest beneficiary from a North Korea that is separated from its nukes.

The Ministry went a step further by saying that the U.S. position about the use of its nuclear weapons against Imperial Japan has not changed. This obviously means Obama’s intention not to apologize for the bombings. Then, the ministry lost its coherence completely, saying, “The U.S. clarifies that the public acknowledgement of historic facts is indispensable to understanding the past.” Whose acknowledgment and understanding does this mean?

Not least, it ended by a highly questionable claim without corroborating evidence by saying that the Obama visit would also aim at bringing consolation to Korean victims of the Hiroshima blast. It is not until Obama mouths such a consolation that it should be seen as the Ministry’s wishful thinking.

Obama’s Hiroshima visit can be meaningful in that it is an effort to remove one of the biggest existential threats to humankind. However, it is worrisome for Korea and China, the victim countries that can’t forget Japan’s brutal colonial rule and its consistent efforts to shun its culpability for the war. It’s deplorable for the ministry to fail to register this national feeling openly and passionately. Who does this Ministry work for? We wonder.

foolsdie5@ktimes.com

5 thoughts on “Korean Foreign Ministry acts spinelessly

  1. Obama is the Big Boss. Japan has more usefulness to the Big Boss than you little ROK. So, suck it up and move on. This is a warning to you for getting too close with China.

  2. Bad was World War II. It is now time to move on. The Japanese have been apologizing ever since the H Bomb was dropped. Granted it was not in the form demanded by the victims. With China on the rise the US has to find ways and means to maintain the balance of power in the China Sea. Small countries in the area that do not have good governance may pay a heavy price if they allow themselves to be used in the power struggle between these two so-called superpowers. That is why it is imperative for those countries that have territorial claims in the Chins Sea to ensure that they become not only economically strong but more importantly political stable with the institutions of the state driving their domestic and foreign policy directions. If you are weak the superpowers will have a field day. It is of no significance as to who occupies the White House.

  3. Japan never ever truly apologized to say SORRY nor admitted having committed any atrocities or war crimes. They are quick to say they “regretted” having caused “harms” to the neighbors. They are quicker to whitewash history from their young people. This shows their insincerity of having any remorse, unlike the Germans. Obama as the first American president to visit Hiroshima is his reward to Japan for having obeyed his order of not joining AIIB. At the same time it is a warning to Korea for disobeying the order and getting too close with China.

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