Analysis of Lee Myung Bak’s Policy toward North Korea

[imText1]“North Korea Policy” is one of the greatest issues of the 17th presidential elections.

In contrast to the government’s “Sunshine Policy” and position on “anti-conservative groups,” the Grand National Party’s (GNP) presidential candidate Lee Myung Bak starts competing against the ruling party with “‘Disable North Korea’s nuclear weapons” and “New South-North Korea relationship” as the slogans.

Already, the North Korean issue has made a blatant appearance on the upcoming presidential election. This is an issue that has never made precedence in former presidential elections.

Following his victory in the party nominations on the 20th, the GNP’s presidential candidate Lee revealed, “I will work to enhance the North Korean economy by persuading North Korea to open up by surrendering its nuclear weapons and collaborate to ensure that the North Korean people find happiness.”

He clearly laid the fundamental principles of reciprocity which underlies the disablement of North Korea’s nukes. Lee urged, “Following the surrender of nuclear weapons, the international community must work to help North Korea develop its economy as did China.” He focused his strategy in leading North Korea to open up independently after disabling its nukes.

Looking back on North Korea’s missile launch and nuclear testing, Lee strongly criticized the “Sunshine policy.” Further, he clearly revealed the basis of reciprocity. Immediately after the “February 13 Agreement,” he even said, “This agreement will not be able to ascertain the preliminary steps of our goals.”

As the BDA issue was resolved and North Korea gave positive signs in implementing the February 13 Agreement, Lee’s policy changed with the turn of events to stress the importance of enforcing a malleable North Korea policy based on approaching the North Korean system through economic collaboration.

More recently, a vision of economic collaboration with North Korea was proposed provided that North Korea “disables North Korea’s nuclear weapons.” He put forward the “MB doctrine,” “Denuclearization∙Opening∙3000” proposal and “Nadeul Island Project” and last year June strongly urged, “The way to surrender its nuclear is to push for economic independence and by ensuring the Six Party Talks protects the North Korean regime through inviolable agreements.”

In addition, Lee has recently voiced his opinion on North Korea’s human rights issues. At a recent university forum sponsored by a university organization “BAIT,” Lee stressed, “Not only is it important to solve the issue of the North Korean people’s daily necessities, we must ensure that the issue of human rights is resolved.”

The GNP’s new policy toward North Korea adjusted

The outlook on Lee’s North Korea policy and GNP’s beliefs are also under scrutiny.

On the 7th Lee revealed, “The GNP cannot accept the new North Korea policy “Vision of peace on the Korean Peninsula” proposed by a member of the National Aseembly, Jung Hyung Geun.” The GNP is in a sticky situation unable to accept the new policy without any conditions because conservative groups already strongly criticizing that it is the ‘GNP’s Sunshine policy.’

However, regarding the policy toward North Korea, strong opposition is expected by conservative groups and in the case “comprehensive reciprocity” is proclaimed, it is expected that central forces will also secede and showcase a new attitude.

Having been selected as the party presidential candidate on the 21st, Lee attended his first High Commission. His comments, “There is a need to re-examine the new North Korea policy as the party has many colors and skills” are under great target.

Regarding the Inter-Korea Summit Talks, Lee was against an affinitive position and advocated a need to modify opinions and postpone the guidance division of the party until the next administration.

Further, it seems that Lee will adopt both conservative, centrists and progressive in the presidential race under the principles “Disable North Korea’s nuclear weapons” and “Vision for economic cooperation with North Korea.”

Beyond the pan-ruling parties peace sham offensive

A tough game is expected even if the North Korea policy is endorsed with adjustments made by the GNP.

It seems that the pan-ruling parties would target the GNP as cold, war forces and themselves as “peace forces,” pressing Lee Myung Bak with sham peace offensive.

Once the Inter-Korea Summit concludes in early Oct, the pan-ruling party forces are expected to implement the agreement between the two countries by succeeding to the Uri Party in the presidential election. Criticisms and pressures on the results of the talks and President Roh Moo Hyun’s government are also expected.

There are further some variables of North Korea’s direct influence such as anti-conservative alliance insisted by North Korea regime. On the 3rd, the Rodong Shinmun (North Korean state newspaper) criticized Lee, “Former Seoul mayor Lee Myung Bak visited rebels of the civil dictator, Kim Young Sam, and bow his head to him.”

With all these aggressive opposition from the pan-ruling parties forces and North Korean authorities, we will have to see whether Lee will be able maintain a rational attitude. For now, Lee is very confident. He once said on the 11th, “Only a person like myself who has lived amidst “Sturm und Drang (storms and stress)” can maintain peace with North Korea and Kim Jong Il.”

Experts argue that a new framework has to be made on the confronting issues of South-North relations and the disablement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Further, in the long-run, a North Korea plan must be revealed outlining the realization of human rights and democracy in North Korea.

Others say that Lee will be faced with negative forces if he preoccupies himself with vote calculations and evades his original fundamentals, even if he does win the presidential election.