Hoping That Bush Helps Korea with Reconciliation

Interview with Seoul Archbishop Nicholas Cheong

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SEOUL, South Korea, FEB. 20, 2002 (ZENIT.orgFides).- On the second lap of his visit to the Far East, U.S. President George W. Bush was welcomed to South Korea with dissent and protests.

Koreans criticize the president´s State of the Union address when he included North Korea with Iraq and Iran in the «axis of evil.»

Bush is using more moderate tones in South Korea. He says the United States has no aggressive intentions, and supports dialogue with Pyongyang and the reunification of the countries.

The Vatican agency Fides asked Archbishop Nicholas Cheong of Seoul, who is also apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, about the situation.

Q: How is the reconciliation process of South-North Korea going?

Archbishop Cheong: Compared to 2000 when the South-North summit was taking place, the reconciliation process seems to have cooled off. We can´t expect to solve with one summit all the problems of Korean people divided for over 50 years.

In order to achieve genuine peace, reconciliation and reunification of Korean peninsula, the South and North should meet often and listen to each other´s opinion with respect. Meeting and dialogue with open heart and in consistency are the best way to approach the reconciliation process.

Q: How is the «Sunshine policy» going on? What is your opinion of the policy?

Archbishop Cheong: The South Korean government is promoting the Sunshine policy with consistency aimed at improving the relationship with North Korea. Thanks to the Sunshine policy, some crippled situations of South-North relationship have been relaxed and ameliorated. …

There are people who oppose the Sunshine policy. These people think that the misery and deprivation of North Korea are products of its incorrect political system, and that helping the North´s needs is like helping it to strengthen its incorrect system, which means it will bring about the opposite effect to what was intended by the Sunshine policy. They may have reasons.

In principle, I support the Sunshine policy. However, in my opinion, we have to accept and recognize the fact that people can have many different opinions. Thus, it is necessary to keep moderate opinion in respect of others.

Q: What do you think about Bush´s visit to Korea? What influence will his visit have on the reconciliation of the Korean peninsula and what impact will it make on the Sunshine policy of President Kim Dae-jung?

Archbishop Cheong: The question of South and North Korea is not only Korean people´s problem. South and North relationship can be under positive influence or negative influence of powerful countries, such as the United States of America, the People´s Republic of China and the like.

These countries should help Korea so that it can open a new era of reconciliation and collaboration by overcoming the era of division. President Bush´s visit to Korea will help him understand better the real situation of the Korean peninsula divided into South and North.

I hope with all my heart that President Bush´s visit will have a positive impact on the reconciliation of Korean people and the Sunshine policy as well.

Q: What would you advise President Bush in regard to the peace and reconciliation of the Korean peninsula?

Archbishop Cheong: [Koreans] will continue to make every possible effort for the reconciliation and reunification of Korean people. All neighboring countries including the U.S.A. and China should help Korea — the only country in the world remaining as divided country — to achieve its own peace and reconciliation.

The reconciliation of South and North will play an important role for peace not only for the Korean peninsula but also for the peace of the entire world.

For the sake of the peace in Korean peninsula and the reconciliation of Korean people, I would like to advise President Bush to make efforts to understand profoundly the real situation of Korean people and the peninsula and to help Korean people in the South and North Korea become one.

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