Magazine

Why Young Koreans Back President Roh


In regards to "Korea's young lions" (Asian Edition Cover Story, Feb. 24): It is dangerous to characterize President Roh Moo Hyun or his supporters as left-leaning. At age 27, I am of the younger Internet generation that supported President Roh during the presidential campaign. I voted for President Roh in high expectation of political and economic reform, not for continuing the sunshine policy, not for the independence-from-U.S. policy on North Korea, and not for a five-day workweek.

Should I be classified between left and right, I'm on the right. I prefer a preemptive strike against North Korea's nuke plants--even if it means war--rather than letting them have nukes. Then why didn't I vote for Lee Hoi Chang? The Grand National Party doesn't qualify as a right-wing party. It may have changed its name, but the leading members of the party-except Lee--are still partisans of old authoritarian rule with no respect for human lives and no shame for bribery and corruption. True, President Kim Dae Jung's era was also ridden with corruption, but it is trivial compared with the scale of corruption when the Grand National Party was in power.

Don't worry. The majority of South Korea's rising new generation is still on the right.

Minjae Sheen

Seoul

As a former soldier stationed on the Korean peninsula from 1998-1999, I question the need to maintain post-Cold War outposts such as South Korea. First, if war were to break out between the two countries, the token American military force could do little to stop North Korea from leveling Seoul. Reports indicate that no other city in the world is targeted by more artillery than Seoul. Second, the 37,000 American service members stationed in South Korea provide little stability to the rest of Asia as evidenced by the violence and unrest in Indonesia and East Timor. Most Asian countries know that American troops in South Korea will never be deployed outside the peninsula.

The continued American military presence in South Korea does little to engender support with the younger so-called 386 generation and only adds to their belief that the U.S. and Japan are conspiring to keep Korea divided. While the current situation may not present the best time for American troop withdrawal, the U.S. must soon cut the umbilical cord. Korea has demonstrated the ability to handle its own foreign affairs.

Thaddeus Hoffmeister

Washington, D.C.

In your latest issue, you claim that the new President of South Korea speaks little English and has not traveled overseas. Why is it worth mentioning? He is heading a Korean-speaking nation. English is not a necessity just because Americans believe so. Does Bush speak anything besides English? Did he travel overseas prior to becoming President? The difference is that the Korean President understands people's rights, while the current American President does not.

Martin Aronsky

Zollikerberg, Switzerland Congratulations on "Time to modernize the U.N. & NATO" (Editorials, Feb. 24). These organizations were set up to solve problems in the late 1940s and no longer are applicable to the current needs of nations and their citizens. New thinking and new techniques are required to solve the new problems. Trying to make dysfunctional organizations perform is one way to create enemies. Don't blame the members. Look at the organization and its structure and see if it is capable of serving the desired strategy and purpose currently needed.

Ron Miller

Brisbane, Australia

The Arab-Israeli conflict represents the biggest of all challenges. Without solving this conflict, we cannot win total support of the Arab-Muslim world in the fight against terrorism. The President of the U.S. has a unique opportunity to appease the anger in the hearts of so many people in the Middle East.

While giving U.N. inspectors time to go after Saddam Hussein's said weapons of mass destruction, America could move its troops (wearing blue U.N. helmets?) from the Gulf into Palestine. The soldiers could help Yassir Arafat reestablish a functioning infrastructure in the Palestinian territories and keep Israel's army out. They can search the country for weapons now held in private hands, disarm Israeli settlers and members of Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, etc., and bring the perspective of a decent life back to the desperate young generation.

R. Tomas Drexel

Hamburg

I agree with your analysis that rising democratic nations must be given power and U.N. vetoes should be replaced by simple voting majorities. Russia vetoed U.N. action in Bosnia as thousands died. Catastrophies in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Afghanistan continue, and much of the U.N. inaction is due to the threat of vetoes by the superpowers. I think there should be secret balloting at the U.N. SecurityCouncil and the General Assembly. No superpower should be able to manipulate the voting by arm twisting, threats, or bribes. Let the U.N. be the voice and power of the global community.

Zulfiqar Malik

Overland Park, Kan. Recent world debate has revolved around one question: "to war, or not to war?" ("Why Bush, Blair & Co. won't go it alone on Iraq--Just yet" International Outlook, Feb. 24) The events of the past few months have highlighted the fundamental flaw at the core of our society--concentrated strategic decision-making. This stretches from major shareholders of multinational corporations right through to the major governing bodies around the world. Democracy? What democracy? Mass antiwar demonstrations occur throughout all major cities, but many world leaders still fail to listen. How can we ever hope to live in a truly democratic world when the U.N. elite are given veto power? We need to start by modernizing such institutions, which still exhibit elitist ideals. I agree that the sooner we rid the world of Saddam Hussein the better, but it is time that Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush took note of public opinion.

Paul Szumilewicz

Birmingham, England


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