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[Editorial] Park Geun-hye’s essay

Park Geun-hye contributed an article to the September-October edition of Foreign Affairs, the New York-based international affairs magazine, to discuss how to achieve genuine peace on the Korean Peninsula. In the 2,250-word article, the frontrunner on the 2012 presidential race said Seoul must be more accommodative toward North Korea, proposing what she called “trustpolitik” and “alignment policy” that contrasts the Lee Myung-bak administration’s hard-line posture.

The contribution, which was largely an elaboration and development of Park’s speech at Stanford University in 2009, drew considerable attention in Korea because it was one of her rare policy statements, particularly concerning the important security issue. Some pointed to the absence of any remarkable initiative but others recognized a balanced vision that contained practical approaches for change.

While comments from the political circles were generally courteous, Chung Mong-joon, an intra-party contender, raised the issue of ghost writing by an anonymous university professor. He wondered whether he should ask Park or the professor who actually wrote the article to get her position clarified about the issue of bringing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons back to South Korea “now that she denied its necessity in her article.” Chung has recently called for reintroduction here of tactical nuclear weapons as deterrence against North Korean nuclear threats.

Park’s Internet home page carried the full text of her Foreign Affairs contribution. Contrary to Chung’s claim, the article made no mention of U.S. tactical weapons either on or outside the Korean Peninsula. Park just proposed “a combination of credible deterrence, strenuous persuasion, and more effective negotiation strategies” to make Pyongyang realize that it can survive without nuclear weapons.

Chung blamed Park for offering her extensive views on the security question in a foreign language in an international magazine while she rarely discusses such crucial subjects with the home audience. In response, Park’s aides termed his criticism as “dirty and infantile.”

Chung’s complaint about Park’s abstinence from making her personal views available to the public is shared by many in and out of her party. As a leading presidential candidate, she will now have to offer her political, economic and security policies for public scrutiny through all kinds of channels as the election approaches. Meanwhile, her opponents should pick up more worthy subjects for criticism instead of relying on second-hand information, which we suspect Chung used this time without himself bothering to read the text of Park’s contribution to the U.S. magazine.
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