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Moon slammed for ‘kowtowing’

Opposition fumes at president for ‘begging’ Kim to visit Seoul
Dec 11,2018
Opposition lawmakers accused the Blue House on Monday of “kowtowing” to Pyongyang for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul this year.

They argued that Seoul is acting servile and fueling domestic discord between the left and right.

The criticism came as the Blue House told local media that it hadn’t heard back from Pyongyang about whether Kim will visit Seoul by the end of 2018, as agreed to in late September when Kim and President Moon Jae-in met in Pyongyang for their third summit.

Despite Pyongyang’s silence on Kim’s visit, Blue House officials have said they were preparing for Kim to visit Seoul in case it is confirmed at the last minute. This has fanned opposition from Moon’s critics.

“Regardless of whether or not [Kim will visit Seoul] by the end of this year,” Rep. Ha Tae-kyung of the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party wrote on Facebook, “It’s becoming really burdensome for both the South and the North.”

“Even if he does visit [Seoul] by the end of this year, Chairman Kim will have nothing much to gain,” Ha said. He added that Seoul “can’t even dream about economic cooperation [with North Korea] or investing [in the North] because [Kim’s visit would occur] before the [second] North-U.S. summit, and it’s not like we can give them a special gift while disregarding U.S. and UN sanctions” on the North. Ha stressed that Kim’s visit to Seoul would be “ridiculous.”

The opposition lawmaker continued that Kim would face “fierce opposition” from protesters in Seoul if he visits the South Korean capital. He said that such a scenario would create a “huge catastrophe” in South-North relations.

Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu of the Bareunmirae Party said he welcomed Kim’s visit to Seoul, but chastised the Moon administration for “begging” North Korea for it. Sohn added it was a “great miscalculation” if Moon thought he could use Kim’s visit to increase his approval rating among the South Korean public. He said Moon’s figures won’t rise unless the president improves the economic fortunes of ordinary people.

Kim Byung-joon, the interim chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said the Moon administration has been focused on North Korea recently.

He blamed recent security hazards in South Korea on the government’s lack of attention to national infrastructure.

Kim specifically cited the fire at a KT switching center in central Seoul in late November, a pipe-bursting accident in Goyang, Gyeonggi, earlier this month and a KTX train that derailed in Gangwon over the weekend.

Off the record or on background, Blue House officials have expressed anxiety that North Korea might not give enough time for Seoul to prepare for Kim’s visit to the country.

They have said that if he does come on short notice, the Blue House may not be able to secure a press center like it did for the first and third inter-Korean summits and book hotels.

The Moon administration is hoping a fourth summit between Moon and Kim in Seoul will restore momentum to stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

A high-level South Korean government official said Monday that Seoul was hoping Kim would visit this year in order to finish 2018 on a high note and lead to significant steps in North Korean denuclearization next year.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JEONG YONG-SOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]