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Wednesday, March 30, 2005



Yangban--the question that comes to mind is, what exactly can S. Korea offer for the region to "balance" on--its "stable" geopolitical status? Ummm...its "forward-thinking" leaders? Ummm...uhhh...


At a time when Korea really needs to have strong, competent leaders they get Roh and his boys. Perpetual dreamers. What they really need is someone tough, shrewd, realistic, and pragmatic. What they need is a master statesman. Otherwise, what will the future hold for Korea with such dreaming, incompetent, amateurish fools in power?

Andy (AKA: The Yangban)

I don't fault Roh as much as some other IKK bloggers do. He is a bit of a babe in the woods but he isn't an idiot. The problem is that Roh's cabinet is like amateur hour at the Improve.

Also, I have much more trust in the professionals in the Foreign Ministry than I do in the guys at the NSC. The other problem here is that it seems to me that Ban and his boys sometimes find out what Korea's foreign policy is when they read it in the morning papers.


It was bad enough when Roh toyed with domestic political stability with his threats to resign or hold referendums, but now he's treading in more delicate areas which he (and most 3-8-6ers) know nothing about. No good can come of this -- not least because we are stil years from a presidential election that might usher in better leaders.


I think South Korea has in mind the type of triangular diplomacy the US-China-USSR played with each other during the Cold War. The problem for SK is, however, that those three nations were not powerful enough alone to be unconcerned about the others, but they were powerful enough to pressure each other and any two of them firmly aligned together would have spelled greater trouble for the third.

South Korea isn't in a similar position. It isn't powerful enough. It can't swing the balance of power if it unites with either one. Plus, the Cold War confrontation made the other triangular diplomacy work, and we don't have any sign that China and the US are going to start Cold War II despite what some people who want to publish books and articles might claim.

South Korea trying to make itself "independant" by publically pushing away the US and Japan isn't going to give it any more clout in the region. China isn't going to use its geopolitical muscle for South Korea's benefit just because SK divorces the US. So, SK will find "independance" the way it seeks it very lonely. And if it decides to embrace China as much as it has the US in the past, South Korea will still lose geopolitical clout, because China doesn't have as much as the US and isn't willing to offer as many benefits as the US has for South Korea over the decades.

In short, South Korea is chopping away at old friendships when it doesn't have adequate means to attract replacements...


oh my god ! roh and his kindergarten are on their field trip again.....stop these...well...they are idiots.....한민족이네 idiots.... yankee go home idiots...
even in a situation like the one with japan where you should be in a 100-percent-win-situation they make things worse for korea...

remember chairwoman park geun hye speaking on the dokdo issue in such a calm way ? remember her in washington, speaking with donnie rumsfeld ? I think if you want somebody who can be a strong player, bet on park !

the foreign minister ban ki moon and finance and economy minister lee hun jai were the only ones in this government who did know what they did...

now there are only so called advanced-thinkers like mr chung-how many variations of ng fit into on name- dong young and mr roh.....roh was a candidate who had no chance and only because everyone knew that he would have no chance he was made a candidate...and then mr chung mong joon became afraid of becoming president and the wonderful youth of korea elected this little fried to be their president... chance: Goh Gon ? Park Geun Hye ? Chung Dong Young ? Park Jin ? Sohn Hak-Gyu ? Kwon Young-Gil ? Some good candidates....lets talk about them ^^


"Cold War camp diplomacy"... "Cold War" this and "Cold War" that.

My biggest question is How come Koreans use this term "Cold War mentality" so often? You don't really hear it anywhere else. I find it really annoying that this term can be used as a trump card to stop thoughtful policy debates. You have to wonder how smart Koreans are as a group for this stupid label to have so much traction.

And if North Korea pointing 11,000 artillery pieces at South Korea for years (and then building nuclear bombs) doesn't constitute some kind of "Cold War" I dont know what does.


come to will hear cold war mentality (kalter-krieg-mentalität) very very fact every day from our wonderful government...thank god there are elections next autumn -.-;;


I think in SK, "Cold War mentality" is related to internal politics than geopolitics. When they use it, they are referring to the authoritarian leaders (in gov, industry, media, and more) vs the opposition that was often put in jail or attacked by the conservative leaders. Since Kim Dae Jung was elected, these opposition figures from the past have seen their time come, and with the Roh generation of politicians, who did't really see the kind of suppression Kim Dae Jung's did, the opposition has decided to use its growing power to attack the attackers of the past. So, you get all this talk of "Cold War mentatlity" and moves by the Roh crew to attack the press, pro-Japanese collaborators, and officially investigate 'the history' of political persecution under Park Chung Hee and others. What has the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just a little is this ---- sometimes all these moves put together starts to make "Cold War mentality" sound oddly like "anti-revolution reactionaries" or just "reactionaries" for short --- the kinds of claims you heard out of places like North Korea and China during political purges under communist rule....


yes of course it's used to the internal affairs....but so it is in germany....most leftist governments tend to say that the people that do not like them are fascists or cold war the conservative say to social democrats that they are commies ;)

Sugar Shin

(NOTE: Yangban edit for language)

Huh, Elysion, who do you want to elect in Germany? The (female) Merkel and her incompetent bunch of conservative losers. Do you really believe they can spirit away over 5 million jobless people? Ah, I know, the'll send them all together to Iraq for the trans-atlantic butt kissing fest. And the daughter of el ex-supremo Park ain't be president - she's a WOMAN! Ever seen a female American or German state leader?


Sugar Shin,

Be prepared to see a woman lead the US. There is a realistic chance the Dems will put Hillary up for the job and the Rep. will put up Rice. I'm sure this suggestion will send you off on one of your typical rantings, but this race for the White House is being discussed and people are warming up to the idea.


Sugar Shin,

anyone will do better than the Greens ;)

CDU and FDP got 54% in polls while the government has 36%....there has to be another flood to change this ;) of course merkel is not the wonder germany needs to recover, but it may be a start...(koehler for chancellor :D)

to the US: Rice and Clinton will be the BEST BEST BEST presidential race in history!

Andy (AKA: The Yangban)

I'm a loyal Republican but I think that Clinton would leave Rice in the dust at election time.

Rice is an academic and a smart leader but she can't come close to Clinton's political skills. I would want to see Rice run for and win an office before trusting her with the party's banner.

(I know that Lincoln was a multi-time loser before he got the big job but he had the advantage of operating with a fractured opposition.)

Sugar Shin

I'm sure this suggestion will send you off on one of your typical rantings... usinkorea

Come on, you love my rantings ;-)!

Thanks Andy for polishing my language to a courtlier level ;-)!


Hillary does seem to be posturing herself in the political center for a run in 2008. Bill dying (the tabloids) would be a boon, or a divorce if he is in good health. If the Republicans ran Rice, they would essentially be stooping to the level of the Democrats, i.e. running a "woman" merely to run a woman as the Dems did with Geraldine Ferraro. But this time they would be up against a woman with credentials of her own. The Republicans have had some strong women potential candidates in the past, inter allia Elizabeth Dole, but she is presently not even on the horizon. As regards Asia, woman have been elected to their countries' top position in South and Southeast Asia (Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines), but these countries, while highly patriarchal, lack the permeating Confucian heritage of NE Asia, where rule from behind the scenes or under cover of regency has been the cultural norm. (Witness Queen Min, the Soong Sisters, the Empress Dowager, etc.) The coming elections should be of high interest in both the U.S. and Korea. Hillary has been taking a strong stance on defence, but does have one achilles heel in her husband's political pardon of the Machetero terrorists, on the eve of her decision to move to New York and run for the senate. But, if the dollar keeps sliding, that may be conveniently forgotten as taxpayers pine for the Clinton years.

Guns and Butter

Hello everyone (from Seattle)!

I wrote this op-ed about a year ago. I think it is of some relevance to the discussion about South Korea playing a "balancing" role. My personal view is that South Koreans have a misplaced sense of importance and power, something that will be rapidly corrected should China replace the US as Asia's hegemon. Thus, it is also my view that should there be any balancing act on South Korea's part, it should be on the US side, balancing a rising China in the region.

By the way, I AM a loyal Republican as well, and I DO think that a Rice candidacy, though unlikely, would be more devastating to a Clinton candidacy than many give credit. Dick Morris, for example, thinks that both Rudy and Condi can beat Hillary, but Condi is far more acceptable to the GOP conservative core than Rudy is (well, she had me at "As far as the Second Amendment is concerned, I am an absolutist").

Flying Yangban:

I blogged a story from the Korea Times, found through your site, and I credited you. I hope that is okay.

James, aka Guns and Butter

Wyatt's Torch

I don't think that Roh wants South Korea to be the Switzerland of East Asia. He wants it to be the France. He expects that we will continue to protect his country even as he does his best to undermine our interests.

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