Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Did You Expect? Wikileaks strikes South Korea.

What Did You Expect?  Wikileaks strikes South Korea.
Over the past few days, WikiLeaks has revealed embarrassing facts about South Korean diplomats, and South Korean diplomacy.  Among the embarrassing facts, name-calling of Chinese diplomats is probably the worst, especially given the fact that China is a necessary participant in calming the current North-South Korean situation.  Although the Seoul Gyopo Guide believes that the Korea Herald article overstates the idea of panic among South Korean governmental officials, it is true that Korean diplomacy will need to adapt to the idea that it will be scrutinized to a far higher degree in the future.

New Position, New Responsibilities
The reason that Korea must adapt to a higher level of scrutiny?  Its higher position the global pecking order among nations.  Asia clearly is a focal point of the global economy, with China being the obvious center.  South Korea plays a critical role because for the economic links between the two countries.  Korea was able to secure its position as the host of the G20 Summit.  Goldman Sachs has postulated that South Korea could have the largest per-capita GDP in the world in the decades to come. 
The themes are not new.  South Korea has not behaved with consistency in many areas.  If Korea wants to receive global respect, then it must behave with the same set of rules that apply to the other global leaders.  It will need to accept the same scrutiny that Japan, the U.S., and the EC receive.
The press will also need to behave responsibly.  To characterize the South Korean government's reaction as panic is an overreaction, and makes it appear to readers that the South Korean government is incompetent.  The reaction of President Lee has been very competent under very difficult circumstances.  South Korea has everything to lose and nothing to gain from increased geopolitical tensions. It must remain wary of North Korea's "puncher's chance" if there were a military conflict.  There are 25 million South Koreans well within a 90 minute tank ride from the DMZ.  Yet, the Korean President must protect the nation's citizens, and the world will support any nation that defends the physical well-being of its people.   

The rules are difficult but it runs both ways.  Korea's greater stature in the world will be accompanied by greater scrutiny.  All parties will need to adjust to this new set of rules and quickly, in order to keep pace with the quality of Korean-made products and companies on the global stage.


Josh said...

Korean politicians need to move away from their traditional confucian values i.e. voice complaints with China directly instead of complaining to the US while maintaining a facade of harmony with China

Great site btw - keep up the good work and ignore the hate

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