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Grassroots Efforts, Not Inter-Korean Dialog, Will Unite Korea: Activists
Many observers say upcoming summit simply political maneuvering
Melissa Wabnitz (melissaw)     Print Article 
Published 2007-08-30 13:58 (KST)   
Korean-English translations by Bak Yeono  <Editor's Note>
Championed as only the second meeting of its kind between North and South Korea since the country's division in the 40s, the upcoming Inter-Korean summit is not likely to usher in the dismantling of the North's nuclear programs nor draw the two countries significantly closer, says President Roh Moo-hyun and the majority of South Koreans.

The historic Inter-Korean summit was originally set for Aug. 28-30, but Pyongyang representatives asked for a postponement until Oct. 2-4, citing flooding that is reported to have killed hundreds of people in the North and left thousands of others homeless.

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"I would rather not try to set a new historic turning point with this meeting," Roh said at a public speech in Seoul in August. "But I will do my best so the smooth current history can turn into a reality. What I think is important above anything else is to promote understanding and build trust between the two sides."

According to statements released by President Roh earlier this month, the current South Korean president will not be "overly ambitious" and discuss nuclear issues at the October summit.

Roh's lack of enthusiasm resonates amongst the majority of South Koreans, including members of the opposition Grand National Party. Some view Roh's decision to engage the North before the December Presidential election as a move to secure votes for the liberal party, which has not yet named a successor for term-limited Roh.

"Rather than delay the summit until October, why not leave it altogether in the hands of the next administration?" asked GNP chairman Kang Jae-sup was quoted in a number of media outlets.

A recent poll conducted by Gallup Korea earlier in August revealed that 58.7 percent of Seoul adults surveyed had "little expectations" of the summit. Further, only 35.5 percent of those surveyed said they "expected the summit to help settle the 'North Korean nuclear problem'."

A number of All Together members and sympathizers met Aug. 24 to discuss expectations of the upcoming summit and related actions.

A tension between the two Koreas, members argue, is a direct side effect of the United States' so-called "War on Terror" and is not a legacy from the Cold War, as many outside analysts have stated.

"Two years after the first summit, the Bush-led government of the United States ushered in the North Korean nuclear weapon crisis by adding North Korea to its 'Axis of Evil' and raising a suspicion of high-density uranium production," said All Together member Han Gyuhan. "But it was obvious that the crisis was coming from the United States and not from North Korea."

Following the first summit, said Yeono, many people's expectations were let down by the South Korean and the American government's actions.

"The people expected the first summit to repeal the (Korean) national security law. But it has not been repealed yet and it still does its bad functions, he said.

Though the upcoming summit may bring about a relatively small improvement between North and South relations, the United States' continued assertion of a North Korean nuclear crisis may jeopardize trust between the two neighbors.

Pointing to previously-scheduled American-Korean "emergency drills" throughout August and October, members of All Together say not only is President Roh a hypocrite when it comes down to his want of a peaceful resolution, but that the President may be an outright deterrent to the peace movement at large.

According to published reports, the military "emergency drill" exercises will include training on "shifting to war modes," "preventing enemy attacks" and "destroying the enemy's capabilities." The training will effect an estimated 10,000 American soldiers stationed in South Korea and Asia.

"Militarization will not bring us peace." said Jeong Dong-Suk, a member of All Together.

"The government will not bring peace to us by negotiations," said Choi Yeong-Jun, at a recent meeting of All Together. "(The government) in the first summit, used the summit to suppress the movements of the people, of the unions, and they will use it again, because if they schedule a summit, the leaders of the unions will hesitate to strike. If you want peace, we must form visible anti-war movements and not be bystanders."

Pointing to President Bush's all-time low approval ratings and the world's growing disillusionment with the War on Terror, All Together member Jeong Seoung-Hui says Koreans must be sympathetic towards the situation in the Middle East because it aversely effects the two Koreas, too.

"When we talk about the peace of the Korean peninsula, we must discuss the situation of North East Asia," Jeong said. "The USA has made North Korea the devil in order to gain control of China . So now, in Japan and in South Korea , it's more militarized so the USA can attempt to control China."

In his concluding statements, All Together member Han Gyuhan, said the "United States is losing in Iraq, but it is not by the Iraqi military's actions, it is by the people's movements. Nuclear weapons of North Korea will not bring peace, but more militarizations and tensions in Asia. We must make anti-war actions to push Bush into acquiesce and bring addition peace to the Korean peninsula."
This article was made possible with help from Bak Yeono, who not only provided translations at the mentioned All Together meeting, but helped verify names.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Melissa Wabnitz

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