Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kim Jong Il has Seoul

I watched Condoleeza Rice and her South Korean counterpart have a new conference yesterday. It was odd how South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon walked in front of Ms. Rice on the way to the podiums, then rigidly motioned to her podium.
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That wasn't what stirred me however. South Korea is "talking tough" against North Korea but they are exempted to trade prizes with North Korea from their sanctions.
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Kaesong industrial park and Mt. Kumgang resort are the centerpieces of South Korea's "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North. They are also money machines for Kim Jong Il, contributing to the record $1 billion North-South trade last year.
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South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun said the two sites would be exempt from the new sanctions passed unanimously earlier by the U.N. Security Council.
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A free trade pact is currently being negotiated between South Korea and the United States. Apparently the South Koreans wish to prop up Kim Jong Il while, depend on the U.S. for protections and straddle the diplomatic fence.
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Today's Wall Street Journal reports South Korea has demanded that Kaesong products be included in the free trade pact. Jay Lefkowitz, U.S. envoy for human rights in North Korea, raised the issue in an April article for The Wall Street Journal Asia. Mr. Lefkowitz pointed to the exploitation of North Korean workers at Kaesong and noted that the industrial park provided a convenient channel for the South to funnel money to Pyongyang. South Korea responded by demanding that Mr. Lefkowitz be fired.
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Thirteen South Korean companies operate factories at Kaesong, employing 8,200 North Koreans to produce watches, clothes, shoes, plastic containers, electrical cords, car parts and other items. More companies plan to launch operations at Kaesong soon, with the aim of employing 730,000 Northerners by the end of 2012.
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This may seem like an economic success for the North, employing more of it's citizens. Official figures showing that Kaesong workers toiled an average of 54.9 hours a week last year and received an average of $64.40 a month -- a sum that fell to $42 after Pyongyang took its cut. Talk about minimum wage and slave labor!
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South Korea wants it both ways, free trade with the United States and North Korea. If South Korea wishes to openly deal with the U.S. and seek their protection from a nuclear North, they must certainly stop their form of a Kabuki dance with Kim Jong Il.

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