Roh’s Tepid Welcome

Sure, you read it here first, but David Sanger has great White House sources, and his new story in the New York Times provides fairly solid confirmation:

Mr. Bush is determined to squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible until it gives up its nuclear capacity and other illicit activities, or, some believe, until it collapses.

I wonder how the Chosun Ilbo will react to this:

In past meetings, Mr. Bush has done his best to paper over the differences. But his aides acknowledge that the gap has grown so much in recent months — “as wide as the Sea of Japan” one senior official said Wednesday — that it will be almost impossible to hide.

Mr. Roh will receive treatment that contrasts sharply with the warm embrace extended in June to Japan’s prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi. Mr. Koizumi got long meetings, a glittering dinner and a trip to Graceland; Mr. Roh, leader of the other major United States ally in Asia, is getting an hour in the Oval Office and a quick lunch.

I might have made the snub complete by telling him to talk to Cheney. Maybe a hunting trip?

Update: Meanwhile, Bush and Roh made it official: South Korea is taking back command of its army during wartime. Although they didn’t say when, the Chosun Ilbo was wringing its hands:

[I]t was the death knell for Combined Forces Command, which has played a central role in deterring war on the Korean Peninsula.

As I’ve said before, I think the handover is a good thing for both countries, even if Roh’s handling of it is dangerously incompetent. And I loved this quote on the alliance by Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan:

“So you have a daughter who’s way past marriageable age, she’s been to college and back on your dime, and she’s picked up an MBA,” he said. “Now you’ve been thinking it’s high time for her to head out on her own. She finally comes to you and says that she’s going to be independent. Now, on the outside, you pretend that you are worried, in reality you needed somebody to slap you in the face before you could cry. To decode the vice foreign minister’s comments: Korea is a daughter who is ready to head out on her own, and the U.S. is the father who is secretly relieved to see her go.



  1. I’m surprised Roh even got lunch. If I were Bush, I would have given Roh 3 dollars and directions to the nearest hotdog stand and called it a day.

    Although the handover looks official now, I would not be surprised if the next administration (GNP filled) puts a stop to it.


  2. I love the bit about how a senior official describes the gap “as wide as the Sea of Japan.” Unintentional hilarity, I suppose, but funny nonetheless.


  3. What far too many people (especially Koreans) fail to understand is that the U.S. wants out of Korea. The Koreans have about as much power to stop it as I have of getting Kim Jong-il to wash my car.


  4. joshua,

    you make this site very delightful with your quick humour.

    “…I might have made the snub complete by telling him to talk to Cheney. Maybe a hunting trip??”