ad info


Asiaweek TIMEASIA.com CNN.com
 > magazine
 home
 intelligence
 web features
 magazine archive
 technology
 newsmap
 customer service
 subscribe
 TIMEASIA.COM
 CNN.COM
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia
  australasia
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SHOWBIZ
 ASIA WEATHER
 ASIA TRAVEL

Other News
TIME.com
TIME Europe
FORTUNE.com
FORTUNE China
MONEY.com
Asiaweek Services
Contact Asiaweek
About Asiaweek
Media Kit
Get up to 3 months of Asiaweek free when you subscribe online!


June 9, 2000 VOL. 29 NO. 22 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Seokyong Lee -- Black Star for Asiaweek
Priorities: To merchant Kim it's getting divided families together

The People Speak Out
What do South Koreans think of the summit? Anything from excitement to wariness

The summit between Seoul and Pyongyang has major implications for the Korean peninsula and for the balance of power in that part of Asia. But, closer to earth, what do ordinary people think -- and feel -- about this historic event, and how it might affect them? Asiaweek's Laxmi Nakarmi canvassed a variety of South Koreans for their views. His report:

In Seoul's bustling Namdaemoon market, seasonal rain on a Friday evening gives merchants a chance to kick back and enjoy a glass of soju, the fiery distilled rice wine, in a neighborhood restaurant. But weightier matters still bubble to the surface. If the summit goes well, muses Kim Nam Il, 45-year-old owner of a bags and accessories shop, he will buy his 75-year-old father a little house in his hometown, North Korea's Nanpo port, so he can contentedly spend the rest of his life there. "I hope President Kim [Dae Jung] will make that possible," says Kim Nam Il. At least he can still dream. A few minutes of silence follow before another small retailer, Hong Ki Yeon, says with a sad voice: "My father also wanted to go back to the village where he was born, but he died early this year."

Reunion is one common concern. Nationalism is another. Housewife Lee Boo Yong believes that Koreans themselves must solve the problem of the two Koreas. "Foreign interests should play no role in the matters relating to our nation, Korea," says Lee, the daughter of a North Korean refugee. "The issues are complex, and it may take a long time to agree on everything. I wish President Kim will focus on a few things and solve them, and meet more often to solve the remaining issues. We have to maintain the momentum." Lee is optimistic that the summit will go well. "If the two sides can continue a conversation without outside pressure, I can even think of eventual unification."

That can be helped by Seoul being generous, say many South Koreans. College student Lee So Yung thinks that South Korea should give more aid to the North. This might prod Pyongyang to allow families to reunite. "Young people do not understand the pain of having a family with whom you have no contact. Politics must come second, family reunion first. We should not forget the human rights of those in North Korea." Lee does not reckon that much concrete will emerge from the summit but, she adds, "I am certain it will augur a new mood in North Korea. South Korea's big companies will begin investing in the North and that could gradually create an environment of freedom there."

Merchant Hong In Pyo, 25, feels the same way. "With economic assistance from our side," says Hong, "there will be a new environment for peace and security." But Hong warns against giving away too much too quickly to the North. "President Kim should not take hasty steps for unification, or we may suffer from economic problems. We must be careful. I also don't believe that Kim Jong Il will easily give up his power. He will remain a dictator. Thus the summit meeting must be seen as only the first step in opening the North Korean door." Others are even warier. "I don't think unification is good for [South Korea's] economy," says Ha Eun Sook, a 27-year-old clerk working in a boutique. "We cannot afford to share whatever meager resources we have with others. Maybe 20 years later."

Much mistrust about the North persists. While shopkeeper Cho Kyung Ja, 48, wants peace so that her 20-year-old son no longer has do compulsory military service, she also warns against rushing into any commitments with Pyongyang. "North Korea has promised many things and signed many agreements before. But they are not good at following through." University professor Lee Sang Woo says Seoul "should not accept any unfair demands by North Korea. Any such promises could make future South-North talks more difficult." Kim Hee Jeong, 46, who runs a small restaurant, says: "President Kim should not get cheated in Pyongyang."

But even the cautious are excited about history being made. Says boutique clerk Ha: "I wish President Kim well for his trip to Pyongyang, and I wish that he can win the Nobel Peace Prize for it." If only it were all so simple.

Write to Asiaweek at mail@web.asiaweek.com

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek.com Home

AsiaNow


Quick Scroll: More stories from Asiaweek, TIME and CNN

   LATEST HEADLINES:

WASHINGTON
U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

MANILA
Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

ALLAHABAD
Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

COLOMBO
Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

TOKYO
Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

BANGKOK
Thai party announces first coalition partner



TIME:

COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state



ASIAWEEK:

COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness


Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
 Search
  ASIAWEEK'S LATEST
Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?


  THIS EDITION
COVER STORY
Korea: Countdown to the Seoul-Pyongyang summit -- what the parties hope to achieve, and what it means for the big powers
Enterprise: The business of reuniting families
Expectations: What ordinary people think -- and feel

TRAVEL
Jet Set: The wired world may have its charms, but hang up the mouse and do some real -- not virtual -- trekking
Celebrities: Where some big names have a great time
Glory Days: The discreet charms of Asia's landmark hotels

SPECIAL REPORT
Regional Security: As China and the U.S. square off strategically, the lack of cooperation between Asian nations may make them pawns in the game
Arms Race: Control argreements are close to breaking
Escalation: What the future holds for the region
Who's Got What, Where: A map of the military situation

THE NATIONS
PHILIPPINES: A nation adrift

SINGAPORE: Dealing with AIDS -- and with gays

Interview: Lee Kuan Yew on where Asia is headed

Viewpoint: Banning child soldiers

ARTS & SCIENCES
Health: A series of mixed signals over cellphone dangers

Newsmakers: China and India sit down to business

TECHNOLOGY
The Net: Saving money with e-procurement

Cutting Edge: Bill Gates in cute fluffy ducky shock

BUSINESS
Cyberscrapers: Hong Kong's IT companies are clustering all over the city. Is the $1.7-billion Cyber-Port really needed?

IPO Watch: Postponements in Singapore cool Internet fever

Investing: Reading Asia's skittish stock markets

Business Buzz: Are Hyundai's problems over?

EDITORIALS
Megatrend: Don't look now, but a community of East Asian nations is starting to take shape

Indonesia: Jakarta must tackle Ambon's intensifying mayhem

LETTERS
Question of pace in Singapore

NEWSMAP
This week's news round-up by country

STATISTICS
The Bottom Line: Asiaweek's ranking of world economies, now online

Monitor: Where to stash those illicit billions


Back to the top   © 2000 Asiaweek. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.