Justice is issue in Korean trial


THE EDITORIAL Aug. 27 commenting on the verdicts recently delivered to former South Korean presidents Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo invites comment on two points.

First, it opens discussion via comparison with the case of South Africa, asserting that the Mandela government managed to achieve a degree of "reconciliation" with the country's former white oppressors.

In South Korea, former presidents Chun and Roh were found guilty of treason and mutiny, corruption and huge abuses of power, all of which demand justice. Therefore, "reconciliation" is not an issue between the South Korean nation and them.

We must note the fundamental distinction which separates addressing human rights questions of institutionalized apartheid from righting the wrongs of history in the process of democratic modernization.

Second, the writer joins other Korea watchers in asserting that North Korea's leaders are observing the trials with "uneasy" eyes toward a future reunified nation under South Korean governance.

There is no sign that the North Korean leadership visualizes a unified peninsula under anything other than their own rule.

The idea that Kim Jong Il fears what precedent these events may hold should he ever fall under South Korean judgment is laughable to South Korean readers.

Djun Kil Kim


The writer is minister for public affairs at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

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