Wed, Jan 03, 2001 - Page 9 News List

The Koreas: What to expect in 2001

It would be reasonable to expect a consolidation and a furthering of the ties the two Koreas developed during 2000, if the South Korean president's optimism is a guide

By Ronald Meinardus

Seen from Pyongyang's angle the personal exchanges are potentially the most dangerous aspect of the whole engagement process.

In the course of the new year and towards the latter part of 2001 the domestic debate in the South as to the pros and cons of the Sunshine policy may well become ever more fierce.

The opposition will lash out at the government accusing it of giving in to the communists throwing scarce South Korean money at the dictator Kim Jong-il.

Although, quite fortunately for the government, 2001 is not an election year, there will be two votes in 2002: one for local offices in the first half of that year, and then the presidential elections in the second half. One needs not be a prophet to predict that the closer we move to election day the more vicious the battles between the government forces and the opposition will become.

There are indications that the North Korea-policy (and not the economy) will dominate domestic politics in South Korea in the months ahead.

It will depend very much on the progress achieved in North-South relations who will have the better arguments on his side when it comes to the big show-down at the ballot-boxes.

The year 2001 will be of crucial importance in this regard.

If President Kim Dae-jung (assisted by Kim Jong-il) does not succeed in pushing forward the peace process in the months ahead, his political camp will have even lesser chances of survvingelections in the future.

Ronald Meinardus is the resident representative in Seoul of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a German foundation for liberal politics which enjoys close links with Germany's Free Democratic Party.

This story has been viewed 3589 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top