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 30, 2000 VOL. 29 NO. 25 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

INow it Gets Harder
They met, they hugged, they planned for a unified future. Now the two Koreas must deal with other interested parties -- and other agendas
By PENNY CRISP and LAXMI NAKARMI Seoul

Plus: The Washington-Pyongyang Divide

For about 45 years the propaganda broadcasts from both sides of the DMZ spat out every rude word to be found in a Korean dictionary -- until the breakthrough summit on June 13-15. Then North Korea's Kim Jong Il shut down the insults from his side and South Korea's Kim Dae Jung agreed to do the same. Just like that. Now the U.S. has eased 50-year-old sanctions against North Korea and decided it is no longer a "rogue state." The ASEAN security forum has kicked in to confirm Northern membership. Erring on the side of caution apparently will not be a feature of the unification express.

Or will it? China, Russia, Japan and the U.S. have been officially upbeat since the Kims came together in Pyongyang. But rapprochement is causing some alarm as various parties examine the possible consequences. No one wants to put the lid back on the initiative -- supposing, anyway, that it could be stoppered -- yet unease has replaced the initial elation. Russia's sudden interest in the area, confirmed by Vladimir Putin's planned visit to Pyongyang next month, has triggered fears of a new arms build-up. China, also wary of Russia, is now being pressured by Taiwan to stage a similar reunification summit. Japan frets about becoming a target if it ends up as the only "home" to U.S. troops in the area. And an outward-looking North Korea removes a large plank in U.S. justification for a $60- billion missile defense system. With all that in mind, both Koreas' hopes of plotting their mutual agenda free of foreign manipulation appear increasingly unrealistic.

So what has been decided so far? The five points agreed upon by North and South are: That the question of unification will be decided "through the joint efforts of the Korean people, who are the masters of the country." That there is a common element in the South's concept of a confederation and the North's formula for a loose form of federation. That humanitarian issues should be resolved promptly -- including exchange visits by separated families (the first set down for August 15). That mutual trust should be pursued through economic cooperation and social exchanges. And that dialogue should continue -- with speculation that Kim Jong Il will visit Seoul, also on August 15. Of course, those basic moves already had been settled by the North-South agreements of 1972 and 1992. Implementation, however, was not forthcoming.

Much of the wariness this time around stems from that lack of concrete progress. True, no leaders had met before, and the two Kims obviously managed some personal bonding during their talks. But issues have not lost their thorny intractability, and both Kims still have to face down hardliners at home. When Seoul canceled a June 25 military parade to mark the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, Pyongyang said it would do the same. But Southern officials would not elaborate on any summit agreement that may have been reached on nuclear and long-range missile defense systems, or the presence of 37,500 U.S. in the country. Kim Dae Jung's envoy reassured Japan and the U.S. that the issues had been spoken of and that implicit in the five-point agreement was the notion that North-South hostilities had ended. But North-U.S. and North-Japan emnities may well remain in the too-hard basket for some time to come.

The U.S. moved quickly to express approval for any reduction in intra-Korean tensions, while adopting a largely wait-and-see approach on the military front. Washington is particularly wary of anti-U.S. sentiment blossoming in the South. By lifting sanctions against Pyongyang on June 19 it is following the "carrot and stick" strategy formulated by former defense secretary William Perry. This means U.S. firms will be able to trade and invest in agriculture, consumer goods, financial services and raw materials, and begin direct air and shipping links. Commercial access to roads, ports, mining and tourism is expected to follow. But bans will remain on sales of military materials and some high-technology goods. The State Department's downgrading of the North from a rogue state appears part of a wider gambit, since all "rogues" have been reclassified as "concerns." Still in force, however, is the terrorist-state tag, allowing the Americans to oppose loans or aid from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. And in the wings of Congress, the hawks are hovering. "[Pyongyang] is on a donor diversification campaign," snorts Douglas Paal, an Asian adviser in the Bush administration. Missile talks, in any case, are expected to resume within weeks.

For Japan, some sticky problems lie ahead. Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro has promised to "take the initiatives in discussions at the July summit meeting of G8 nations for building full support to the positive move of the Korean summit." But normalizing relations could mean a Pyongyang claim for up to $10 billion in war reparations. As well, the Korean "comfort women" -- forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II -- reportedly have agreed to act jointly in seeking compensation. Sneered China's People's Daily newspaper: "If [North-South] relations improve, Japan's talks with North Korea will be of diminished importance."

China, meanwhile, has resisted gloating too much about what seems to be its win-win situation. An influx of economic aid to North Korea will relieve it of having to be chief donor, and of setting up resettlement camps to cope with waves of economic refugees. If U.S. troops remain in the South, they provide a handy check against Japanese ambitions. If they go, China can reassert its historical dominance in the area. Relations with the South, meanwhile, remain strong.

Russia's ambitions seem clear. A Foreign Ministry official said he hoped both Koreas would begin building a new relationship "which fully answers Russia's interests." Its main interest is in ensuring that the U.S. missile defense shield does not happen.

Military machinations aside, the prospect of commercial gain is occupying most foreign players. For the Koreans, however, there is a more important subject. In Seoul last week, Lee In Kyu, 78, his hands trembling, filled out a form applying for a reunion. "I believe that my wife and my two sons are still alive and well," Lee said. At the end of the war, his wife advised him to go to Seoul for a few days to avoid the communists. "I crossed the Imjin river with the help of moonlight," he said. "It was the worst mistake I made in my life." Indeed, avoiding tricky "advice" may well be the new name of the game.

With reporting by MURAKAMI MUTSUKO Tokyo, PAUL MOONEY Beijing and SAMUEL GILSTON Washington

The Washington-Pyongyang Divide
While the allies of both Koreas hailed the summit, each of them has some gripes. The sharpest remain between the U.S. and North Korea. Key differences:

Nuclear Potential

Washington's Position
Full transparency of all activities, including inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Pyongyang's Position
Limited compliance as well as inspection.

Missiles
Washington: Complete halt of development, exports and testing.
Pyongyang: A moratorium on testing.

U.S. Troops In South Korea

Washington: They will stay even after reunification.
Pyongyang: They will withdraw after the signing of a Korea peace treaty.

Economic Aid
Washington: None for the time being.
Pyongyang: Permit borrowing from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and others. Access to the IMF if needed.

Human-Rights Abuses
Washington: Stop them.
Pyongyang: Don't interfere in what is an internal matter.


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
Best Universities: Higher education will never be the same as governments mandate reforms and the Internet impact sets in
Rankings: How 116 multi-disciplinary and science and technology schools stack up
Reforms: Can Beijing build world-class institutions?
Virtual: What you should know about online diplomas

ASIAWEEK.COM
New Economy: The lowdown on the wired workplace

THE NATIONS
Korea: Following through on the summit's feel-good factors
The North: How it might -- and might not -- change
Business: What the prospects really are

Malaysia: The law minister okays commentary on the judiciary
Strategy: Keadilan needs to think beyond Anwar Ibrahim

Vietnam: Dissident monk Thich Quang Do, a Nobel nominee

Interview: China's Zhu Rongji on cross-strait relations

ARTS & SCIENCES
Books: A macabre novel explores China's heart of darkness

Health: Tough therapy that gets stroke patients moving

Cinema: John Woo sets himself another mission

Viewpoint: Sharkfin soup is not so good for the sharks

Newsmakers: You wonder what Suchinda Kraprayoon knows

BUSINESS
Acer: A venerable tech company aims to recapture its youth
Up Close: Stan Shih -- Acer's ace in the pack

Investing: Stay the course: telecommunications and electronics

Housing: Did falling property prices unnerve Hong Kong?

Business Buzz: Failed merger in Singapore

EDITORIALS
Watershed: After Korea's successful meeting, the work begins

Priorities: Indonesia needs reform more than Suharto's "fortune"

LETTERS
Islamist-led Malaysia?

NEWSMAP
This week's news round-up by country

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

Monitor: Arms spending on the rise


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