Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Ambassador's Speech

I just got back from seeing South Korean Ambassador to the US Han give a speech at the Elliot School. I was very impressed by it. Dean Harding of the Elliot School and President Trachtenberg both gave introductions before the Ambassador spoke.

The Ambassador himself was very well-spoken. More importantly, he covered a lot of issues pertaining to South Korea and addressed them clearly and well. The official topic of the speech was the Korea-US Alliance, and Han spent a lot of time covering this subject. He said that he feels the Alliance between the US and Korea is strong and growing stronger. He closed his speech by saying he remained "bullish" about our alliance. He spoke about the US plan to withdraw troops from Korea as well as the Republic of Korea's decision to keep troops in Iraq despite Iraqi insurgents' threats.

Han also spent a lot of time devoted to discussing the North Korean "situation." He mentioned that the DPRK does indeed have Nodong missiles; these missiles have the potential range to hit Japan if the North Koreans so desired. He argued that because the US is hostile toward the DPRK because of its nuclear policy, the DPRK is unwilling to engage in multi-party talks, which would hopefully solve the quagmire. And if North Korea won't participate, of course, such discussions are for naught.

Abassador Han also touched upon Sino-Korean relations, especially those between China and North Korea. He concluded that China is pretty sympathetic with Pyongyang but also wants to participate in the multi-party talks regarding the nuclear program.

Besides the dean of the Elliot School and the university president, there were a number of other interesting guests in the room. Asking questions to the ambassador after his speech were both a Belarussian diplomat and a Defense Department analyst. Well-regarded and -respected North Korean History Professor Kirk Larsen also attended the forum. I didn't notice anyone else from our class, though.

I'm not sure if my earlier short posting actually counts as a posting, but I think we can agree that we can combine the two to create a SUPER-posting.

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