February 21, 2024

The contradictions of Dresden

Park’s position on joint military drills, denuclearization doom her proposal

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s speech in Dresden on March 28 attracted a lot of comments, at least in the Koreas and among Korea observers. Not front page news elsewhere, but then the international press is seldom interested in Korea unless there is a whiff of gunpowder in the air. To many sub-editors the title – “An Initiative for Peaceful Unification on the Korean Peninsula” – must have ranked close to Claud Cockburn’s famous “Small earthquake in Chile, not many dead” as an attention grabber. A great pity, because Korean unification is an important subject, with global ramifications.

Most of the mainstream South Korean press was, as to be expected, laudatory. The state-funded news agency, Yonhap, called it a “landmark speech” and the right-wing JoongAng Ilbo decided that she had “made history.” The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency was, as to be expected, dismissive and, as is too frequently the case, somewhat incoherent – “She also put forth a ‘unification proposal’ woven with junk only to arouse ridicules and criticism even from among her hirelings.” It did not specify which hirelings expressed such career-shattering ridicule. However, criticism there has been, and rather damning criticism at that.