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The South Koreans have pressed for engagement with North Korea and the Kim Jong-Il regime for decades. They have protested against the American military presence in their nation and tried to appease their northern neighbor into playing nice on the peninsula. Kim's latest nuclear test appears to have finally demonstrated the folly of that approach. In less than a week, public opinion has shifted profoundly towards a hard-line policy and even arming the South with nuclear weapons:
In less than a week since North Korea claimed to have tested a nuclear weapon, public opinion in the South has turned sharply against a South Korean policy of engaging the enemy in the belief it will eventually bring peace on the divided peninsula.
A JoongAng newspaper poll, several days after the reported nuclear test Monday, found 78 percent of respondents thought South Korea should revise its policy, and 65 percent said South Korea should develop nuclear weapons to protect itself.
Protesters have held nightly candlelight vigils, and some have burned North Korean flags.
That's a switch from the American flags that used to get burned regularly in South Korea.
The ruling party has seen its popularity plummet to 11%, barely a blip on the radar, after the collapse of Roh's "sunshine policy" of engagement. Even President Roh acknowledges that the test has neutered his policy, but that realization comes too late to undo the damage. The opposition GNP now has 40% support, and they have no desire to see the sunshine policy rise again. They want an end to joint industrial and tourism projects, including a resort complex built by Hyundai in the blighted North.
South Korea got a dose of reality this week, and to their credit, they've recognized what many do not: appeasing dictators does not produce security. It only kicks the can down the road. Roh and his mentor Kim Dae-jung still believe in appeasement, which means that South Koreans have a choice to make about their own government and their own security -- and they know that time has almost run out.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Guess who wants to come back to the table?North Korea wants six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula to continue, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said Sunday following talks with his North Korean counterpart, R... [Read More]
Tracked on October 15, 2006 11:55 AM
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