Moon Kyung-hwan(Editorial Staff of Jukwon Broadcasting in S Korea) points out that many feel frustrated with the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It is t)he United States that is the fundamental obstacle to peace, prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula. The United States made it clear that they didn’t want peace, prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula at the second North Korea-US Summit in Hanoi. However, it was a kind of 'constant' that the US would not let go of its supremacy on the Korean peninsula easily, and it was readily predictable.
Top leaders of North and South Koreas Declared September Statement of 2018
at Pyongyang, North Korea and Panmunjum events.
The Korea administration,
clinging to US approval. Is this fate?
By Moon Kyung-hwan
Translated by Kim Eun-hye
(Editorial Staff of Jukwon Broadcasting in S Korea)
Many feel frustrated with the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It is t)he United States that is the fundamental obstacle to peace, prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula. The United States made it clear that they didn’t want peace, prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula at the second North Korea-US Summit in Hanoi. However, it was a kind of 'constant' that the US would not let go of its supremacy on the Korean peninsula easily, and it was readily predictable.
Then what on earth is Moon Jae- In administration doing? Did the government, which talked about national independence and national self-determination in the last three summit talks between South and North Korea, change even a bit? How come the government is so conscious of the US interference and pressure and is not able to make any progress in inter-Korean relations? That is what frustrates people.
1. Moon Jae-In Administration, Clinging to US approval
Moon Jae In administration brought up the possibility of lifting sanctions after Pyongyang inter-Korean summit in September. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said she was looking into the issue of lifting the 5.24 sanctions. Trump said the very next day, “They won’t do that without our approval,” and outright dismissed the idea. The South Korean government may not do anything without the US approval. This, however interpreted, was clearly an intervention in the domestic affairs and completely tramped on Korea's sovereignty.
But the government remained silent. The government of a sovereign state should have protested as any sovereign government should. The ruling party also was silent. No, they were rather busy defending Trump. The Democratic Party of Korea spokesperson Lee Hae-Sik embellished the statement, "It emphasizes close cooperation between Korea and the US.” And Song Young-gil, the Democratic Party of Korea congressman, said, "It would be accurate to interpret it as we will discuss closely in advance. We should not see this as if some colonial governor giving approvals." Ambassador Cho Yoon-je declined to comment, by saying, “It is not appropriate to comment on the remarks made by the president of the host country as ambassador of the country of sojourn.”
In fact, Moon Jae-in administration has steered in accordance with the approval of the United States. President Moon Jae-in indirectly addressed, at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 27, 2018, the request to ease sanctions on North Korea. He more directly called for easing of sanctions against North Korea during his trip to Europe in Oct. 13 to 21. However, President Trump pressured Moon Jae - in administration, emphasizing repeatedly in the midterm elections campaign rallies on October 20 and 27 that he would not hasten negotiations on North Korea, so called "speed control theory." Then the Moon administration could no longer mention sanctions relief.
However, the US, still troubled, launched Korea- US Working Group to "approve" North Korea policies one by one on November 20, 2018. Moon administration now is reduced to wait 'officially' for 'US approval' even on a minor matter on North Korea policies. Kaesong business owners, who want to check on the facilities, have only recently been approved to visit with the 'approval' of the US after repeatedly denied because the US didn't 'approve.'
South Korea-US summit held in the United States on April 11 reached the peak of the "approval" diplomacy. Upon arriving in the US the day before, Moon Jae-in was busy meeting with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, and the National Security Advisor Bolton, requesting the 'approval' of the inter-Korean summit. As a result, President Trump at South Korea-US Summit told him to inform the US of North Korea's position as soon as South Korea understands through the inter-Korean summit or inter-Korean contact. He approved the inter-Korean summit and appointed the president of a sovereign nation as his 'special envoy,' an errand boy, so to speak. However, the government assessed the summit as a success saying "President Trump expressed strong support for the inter-Korean summit", and "South Korea-US summit ended with a great result."(Briefing of the Democratic Party of Korea spokesperson Lee Hae- Sik, April 11,2019)
The "Good Enough Deal" (a compromise between North Korea and the United States) suggested by the Moon Jae-in administration was, of course, ignored by President Trump's statement, "Now we should discuss the big deal." And the key issue of the resumption of Kaesong industrial Complex and Mt. Geumgang tourism was "prohibited" by saying "it is not the right time".
Meanwhile, Moon administration repeatedly stresses that President Trump supports the food aid to North Korea. Cheong Wa Dae (The Blue House) immediately disclosed that President Trump supported the food aid to North Korea in a telephone conversation on the night of May 7. President Moon Jae-in emphasized that he had the blessing of President Trump on food aid to North Korea during the meeting with the executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP) Beasley on May 13. It seems as if the opposition parties should not dispute because the US "approved."
It is unfathomably frustrating to see how Moon administration deals with the US, which makes me wonder whether it is the government of a sovereign nation. The public feels shame beyond frustration seeing that the government waits only for the "approval" of the US, is flustered wondering the US may not give "approval", and gets excited when the U.S. "approval" comes in.
The fact that all cabinet level officials are all called out even when a mere director of the US bureau visited shows the sad reality that Moon administration completely depend on the approval of the United States. The head of the office of Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do-hoon, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-geun, and the director of National Security Office Chung Eui-yong. They were all called out to welcome the US special representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun during his two-day visit last October last year.
Is the US special representative for North Korea policy such a high and important position? The head of the US Department of State is the Secretary of State and two co-equal Deputy Secretaries under it. And there are six Under Secretaries of state below. Then Assistant Secretaries, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, and so on. Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) deals with matters on the Korean peninsula. The director is the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, but it is equivalent to siljang (first grade) in Korea. Under the Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, there is a Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs in charge of Korea and Japan, followed by Section Chief for Korean affairs and Deputy Section Chief for Korean affairs.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs used to be in charge of the North Korea policy. The position of Special Representative for North Korea policy was created as the US needed to focus more on negotiations with North Korea. The Special Representative for North Korea was the US chief negotiator during six-party talks in the past. The Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of North Korea was added in September last year. The rank of Special Representative for North Korea policy is unclear, but it is usually said to be equivalent to deputy assistant secretary, that is, the rank of gukjang (second grade) in Korea. So Biegun can be seen as a deputy assistant secretary, Korean gukjang -level (there is no deputy assistant secretary in Korea).
Let's go back to the end of October, 2018. Essentially, Biegun's South Korean counterpart is Lee Do-hoon the head of Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs. Since he is a visiting foreign official he may, as a courtesy, meet with an assistant minister, a higher ranking official than him. If we were to hugely concede to the matter, he might meet a vice minister. But it's absurd to meet a minister or equivalent. Whom did Lee Do-hoon meet when visited the US on the other hand? The highest rank official he met was Biegun. He didn't even get a chance to meet with the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. However, Biegun met with the head of the office of Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Lee Do-hoon, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-geun, and the Director of National Security Office Chung Eui-yong, one by one. In a nutshell, he lined ministerial- level officials up and met them.
The national pride of the Moon administration disappears like that before the United States.
2. The counterargument of theirs
The submissive manner of Moon administration toward the US raised criticism from various social circles; not independent, unable to speak of the interests of the people, not abide by the principles of national autonomy and national self-determination, and unilaterally swayed by the United States. There was Workers' Peace and Independence Rally on April 27 commemorating the first anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration. During the rally, Kim Myeong-whan, the chairman of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU,) warned,"(Moon Jae-In administration) should observe the principle of national independence, break from foreign power dependent policies, and become the primary party to achieve the grand unity of the people." Representatives of Kaesong business owners plead, " The government must stop being conscious of the US and should let Kaesong business owners visit the facilities" in the press conference held on April, 30. At the joint academic conference on the first anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration, April 25, former Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok asserted," We should be able to say 'No'' to the US position that inter-Korean relations should not go ahead of North Korea-US relations, or that we should act within the framework of sanctions against the North."
However, the ruling party members actively protest that it is an inevitable reality as long as we rely on the US for security and economy.
On Sept. 25, 2018, President Moon Jae-in signed a revised Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and commented that it "means expanding the alliance into the economic area." "The Korea-US alliance is the strongest cornerstone of peace on the Korean peninsula," and "We already are great allies," he also said. Further, he even said, "South Korea-US alliance must continue to exist for the stability and peace of Northeast Asia as a whole even if the complete denuclearization of North Korea is achieved and a peace treaty is concluded in the future, and the Korean peninsula becomes unified." The reason he so openly courted with the US is because of the apprehension. The Office of National Security of the Blue House expressed the concern on its report that the US questioned Moon administration's commitment to South Korea- US alliance and cooperation, reported Asia Business Daily on November 26, 2018. You can get a glimpse of overanxious struggling not to get abandoned by the US.
This dates back to Roh Moo-hyun Administration whose spirit Moon administration inherited from. Upon returning from his visit to the US in May 2003, President Roh Moo-hyun answered the criticism of his humiliating conduct during the trip with an old saying, "Hanxin crawled under the crotch of a thug, too." It was a blatant acknowledgement that we should swallow our pride and seek the US 'approval' as long as we rely on the US for our security and economy. It appears that this administration inherited such stance of President Roh.
Moon administration is very conscious of the United States particularly in economic matters. Although there are twists and turns during the series of inter-Korean Summits and North Korea-US Summits, the war crisis on the Korean Peninsula has been steadily subdued. So the government may think that the economic problem is holding it back. In fact, it is also economic problems to drag its approval rating down. In the meeting with financial and business leaders in the United States (Dialogue with President Moon) on September 21, 2017, President Moon said, "Korea has developed based on an export-led international economy. Among other things, the United States is our most important economic partner," emphasizing that US cooperation in economic development is essential.
However, swallowing our pride in South Korea-US relations for the sake of economic development and thinking the U.S. "approval" normal. It is no different from Lee Wan-yong's position that Korea should rely on Japan for economic benefits around the end of Choson Dynasty. This position is neither justifiable nor realistically viable. Let's take a look at this.
3. Sovereignty precedes economy every time.
We failed to root out Chinilpa(pro-Japanese faction.) So Korean society has not been able to break from toadyism for a long time as some publicly mention ‘Colonial modernity theory’ that says 'The Japanese colonial era has helped our economy developed.' This is especially noticeable in the ruling class and the establishment, which allows the government to actively spread the idea that the sovereignty can be given up to a certain degree for economic growth.
It is a common sense in any country that sovereignty precedes economy. We should be able to sacrifice economy for sovereignty, not the other way around. Because sovereignty is 'the life' of a nation. The Constitution of the Republic of Korea also stipulates the sovereignty in Article 1 and stipulates the economy in Article 119. The President's responsibilities are also referred to as the independence of the state, the preservation of territory, the continuity of the state and the protection of the Constitution, but not the economic development.
Historically, the country that gave up its sovereignty regardless of its location (the East or the West) was one of those who groaned in despair of the plundering of foreign powers and eventually collapsed. Common sense says that, without a country's sovereignty, it cannot decide nor enforce policies for its own country, nor can it protect the people, the territory or the nation's wealth. If we give up sovereignty, we cannot maintain the state itself, let alone economic development. That's why 18th-century thinker Rousseau argued that "the destruction of the state occurs when the sovereign loses her legislative power." The reason we respond sharply to Japan's sovereignty claim over Dokdo is that it undermines the sovereignty not because of the economic value of Dokdo. If we lose Dokdo today, then we may lose the entire territory tomorrow.
The claim of abandoning sovereignty and saving the economy is no different from the claim of 'being a complacent slave', or 'giving up human dignity and becoming an animal.' Were we economically better off after we lost our sovereignty to Japan? No, the entire nation was enslaved and led to a miserable life worse than animals.
Nevertheless, there is a reason this common sense that sovereignty is ‘the life’ of a nation and precedes the economy is challenged. Because it is believed that Korea has become the 11th largest economy in the world due to the pro-US economic dependency. Is really it true?
4. Pro-US economic dependency brings the growth?
Korea has been on the path of a pro - US dependent economy from the beginning. Let's examine this as three periods.
The 1950s are the economic era of foreign aids. The US aid accounted for 31% of South Korea GDP at the time. The US directly intervened in the economic policies of the Rhee Seung-man regime through the Combined Economic Board. And the US aid goods were operated under the supervision of the US ambassador to Korea. At the time, 69.2% of US aid was military aid, and 29.6% of economic aid, while only 1.2% of technical assistance (Joint Annual Report, Seoul Economic Daily, 1974.) The purpose of the United States was not to develop the Korean economy, but to turn Korea into a US military base. As a result, the economy of Rhee Seung-man regime became impoverished as severely as it possibly would.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, it can be seen as the economy of Foreign Loans, and the Korean economy grew quantitatively. So why did the US let Korean economy expand? There are two reasons.
The first is to prevent a threat of revolution. Behind the 4.19 revolution that toppled the Rhee regime was a serious economic devastation. The unification slogans such as the famous "Unification is the only way to live" and "Go to the North, come to the South" were introduced at that time because people chose unification as an alternative to overcome the economic ruin. In contrast to the devastated Korean economy, North Korea was elated by rapid economic growth through the Chunrima Movement. North Korea emerged as the only socialist industrialized country in Asia in 1960s. It was natural that the Korean people saw unification as the way out of economic crisis. The US worried that the North and the South could be unified under the leadership of the economically superior North Korea if left alone. So the US hastily expanded the Korean economy to soften the spirit of unification.
The second is to restructure the industry in the United States. The US enjoyed the so-called "golden age of capitalism" in the 1950s. Then workers' wages rose and demands for welfare and the better environment grew. The US capital advanced to the third world in search of low-wage labor. Especially, industries with old facilities and the ones causing industrial pollution were mainly relocated. South Korea was one of those Third World countries. The industries that came into Korea as foreign loans were mainly the pollution industries such as chemicals, textiles, oil-refining, and the simple processing industry. The economy of foreign loans can be seen as the period that the Korean economy was reorganized into the economy of proxy productions and subcontracts for the United States.
One may think the household income increased and that the problems people making a living were rather settled, thanks to the pro-US economic dependency anyway. But strictly speaking, it was the fierce struggle of the working people that solved the problem of livelihood. The people improved their lives through the constant heartbreaking fights for the right to live; Chun Tae-il's self-immolation in 1970, YH trade workers' sit-in in 1979, the North-South coal mine labor uprising in 1980, the Guro Strike in1985 and the Workers' Grand Fight in 1987.
When the Hyundai Motors Labor Union Strike broke in 1987, the company had its office workers (aka white collar) infiltrate in Ulsan factory in attempt to dissolve the strike. However, they, against the company's wishes, subtly encouraged workers' strike. Because the wages of white-collar workers would naturally rose as well if the wages of factory workers rose. The wage growth rate of workers at that time was phenomenal, from 11.6% in 1987 to 19.6% in 1988, 25.1% in 1989, and 20.2% in 1990. It was quite explosive. In the case of Hyundai Motors, wages quadrupled during the 10-year period from 1987 to 1997.
As workers' wages rose, the civil servants group became agitated. Civil servants, too, quietly encouraged the workers strikes and hoped that workers’ wage increase would positively impact their wages. In 1992 presidential election, candidate Kim Young-sam announced his pledge to raise public servant wages to 90 percent of state-run enterprises or government-invested institutions.
As you can see, the stable livelihood was won by the fierce struggle of the working people, not by pro-US economic dependency.
Meanwhile, the wage increases of workers boosted consumption, and this boosted commerce in turn giving a boost to overall economy. Chaebols do not spend much money domestically no matter how much money they make. They spend it overseas or buy expensive imported luxury items. The movie "Ode to My Father (Gukje shijang)" released in 2014 well portrays that it was the workers who fed the merchants. Not President Park Chung-hee.
From the 1990s to the present, it can be seen as a period of direct penetration of US capital. The Korean economy expanded rapidly during this period, too. The nominal GDP stood at 198 trillion won in 1990, rose to 635 trillion won in 2000 and 1,265 trillion won in 2010. Real GDP also increased steadily except for the year 1988, the aftermath of the IMF crisis. It is now the 11th largest economy in the world. The number of registered cars exceeded 10 million in 1997, and reached 17 million in 2009 entering 'the age of 1 car per household' and 20 million in 2016 advancing to 'the age of 2 cars per household.' It is certain that the economic aggregate has increased. So is this due to pro-US economic dependency?
In the 1990s, the United States shifted from manufacturing to financial and service industries, and pushing for Neoliberalism, put pressure on the world to open its markets. Korea is no exception. So we gradually opened the financial market; the opening of the stock market in 1992, the liberalization of foreign exchange banks in 1996, the liberalization of foreign investment in listed bonds in 1997, and the liberalization of foreign investment in stocks and short-term financial products and the permission of hostile foreign takeovers of domestic companies in 1998. At the same time, we privatized state-owned enterprises and state-run enterprises so foreign capital was easily able to buy them. This allowed US financial capital to easily plunder the Korean economy.
We should view the expansion of the Korean economy since the 1990s as a result of foreign capital entering the economy rather than the growth of the 'our own' economy. For example, foreign share of Samsung Electronics with the largest total assets in Korea stood at 57.07 % as of 2018. While Hyundai Motors, the second largest, is 44.71 %. The leading steel company POSCO is 54.68%. Banks are even more pathetic. The foreign share of KB Kookmin Bank, which is the largest in total assets among domestic banks, is 67.53%. ( as of May 17, 2019) It is doubtful whether leading big corporations and banks in Korea are really Korean companies or banks.
In the 1990s, Kim Young-sam administration lifted regulations and opened up the economy and some people claimed that economic democracy was realized. [They claim] anyone can buy stocks and buy companies. To be precise, however, it was not economic democratization, but economic pro-Americanism.
Has the lives of the people improved as a result of economic expansion due to foreign capital? Economic profits are taken by US capital and pro-American capital. Workers become casual workers (contingent workers). And the whole country is facing a tough job crisis. Even if one was lucky enough to get a job, she or he works at a second job and a third job to survive. It is hard to make ends meet in Korea. Some says it is 'Hell-Choson.' Who says our economy has improved and our lives have improved due to the pro-US economic dependency?
As seen in these three periods, the process of change in the Korean economy can be summarized as the process of Americanization of the economy. The Americanization of the economy is, in other words, an economy that can be easily plundered by the US. It is a process of becoming an economy that the US can plunder easier and more. It is also a process in which the former pro-Japanese converted into the pro-American and become more solid.
Even though the struggle of the working people has made life better at a certain degree, only the very few benefited from the fruits of economic growth and most of them crumbled. Small and medium-sized capitalists become small-sized capitalists, regular workers become casual workers, self-employed people are repeatedly bankrupt, and farmers crumble and have no future. This is the reality of the Korean economy.
It is a complete illusion that the pro-US economic dependency brings the economic growth. ( to be continued)
한글 원문 문경환 / 번역 김은혜
[출처] The Korea administration, clinging to US approval. Is this fate?|작성자 주권연구소