Bruce Cumings and Paik Nak-chung
The Korean translation of this article was published in The Quarterly Changbi (Spring 2009).
Bruce Cumings is a Professor in History at the University of Chicago. Paik Nak-chung is a professor emeritus at Seoul National University.
ⓒ Changbi 2009
Dialogue/ Seoul, 17 December 2008
Korea and East Asia Amidst Global Economic Crisis
Bruce Cumings and Paik Nak-chung
Paik: I understand the main purpose of your visit to Seoul this time is to participate in the Yonsei University Conference commemorating the 60th anniversary of its Korean Studies Institute. Since your conference paper, “Korean Democracy and American Power,” is mostly devoted to a historical review of what has gone on since 1945, we may begin by your adding a sort of postscript to that paper regarding what’s happening in Korea today.
Cumings: Well, I argue in the paper that Korean democracy came up from the bottom, that the motive force or real power behind the democratization of Korea was the masses of protesters in the streets, and events like the Kwangju rebellion and the June mobilization against Chun Du-hwan in 1987. Those watershed events, I think, created a very strong civil society based in young people and in labor groups. And as I’ve said, I think in many ways Korean civil society is stronger than American civil society, with more participation, more interest in politics. And these days young people are especially wired to the web. In the United States, to the extent that people ever talk about Korean democratization, they just assume, especially people in Washington, that it was a matter of nurturing the middle class and when the middle class became stronger, Korea democratized and the United States always stood behind that. But in fact, in my paper I argue that the middle class, when it gets its rights, usually wants to stop there and not extend them, and that much of Korean democratization came against American power in Korea, especially American support for one dictator after another. But I think the Korean democracy that we see today strikes me as like democracy everywhere; it’s very unsatisfying but it’s better than the alternatives. Winston Churchill said it in a different way, that democracy may be a terrible system, but it’s better than all the others. Democracy in a highly complicated society like Korea or the United States can often be very disappointing. From my point of view, I was quite disappointed with the election of President Lee Myung-bak in South Korea, although I don’t vote here, so I don’t take it so personally; whereas in the United States I certainly did take Bush’s ‘election’ personally. But here in Korea I think one can’t be too disappointed because you had ten years of a liberal government under Kim Dae-jung and Rho Moo-hyun. Much was accomplished in consolidating democracy, in opening relations with North Korea on the basis of reconciliation, and so I think that those ten years in Korea generally were very positive ones. But I do think that it’s only proper to say that actually existing democracy in a capitalistic society is bound to be disappointing, day in and day out, but there are victories that are won and one was 1998 and another was 2002 in Korea, and the third was the Obama election in the United States. I’ve regained my optimism about American politics because of Obama’s election which was very decisive, not on the margins like Bush, but very decisive, so in spite of the economic crisis that we’re all facing I’m very optimistic about the Obama administration, optimistic about American democracy because essentially the kind of stranglehold that the right wing and especially fundamentalist Christians had on American politics has been broken. So those are just some reflections on the current situation, but on balance I think one can say that the democratic development in Korea has been wonderful on the whole, much, much better than what existed 20 years ago.
P: We’ll talk more about American politics later. On balanc, development of South Korean democracy may have been more encouraging than what happened in the US – until this past year. While in America Obama won decisively as you say, in Korea it was Lee Myung-bak who won, also quite decisively, in last year’s election, and launched a new administration earlier this year. Now, at first, even many of those who had opposed Lee were ready to concede that his victory had certain good points. I mean after all another transfer of power through the electoral process points to the progress of Korean democracy; and also this offers a good chance to shake up democratic or progressive forces in South Korea. But after less than a year, more and more people are worried that we have really elected another George W. Bush, as this President has embarked on a series of disastrous policies. I don’t know if you think these worries are exaggerated.
C: No, I don’t think they are exaggerated. I think that the election here was rather like the 2000 election in the United States, in other words you had at that point 10 years of Kim Dae-jung and Rho Moo-hyun and in America we had 8 years of Bill Clinton. And even though in both cases there was a great deal of accomplishment, voters get tired of seeing the same party in power or the same faces. I don’t know that I would say that Lee Myung-bak is like George W. Bush, for several reasons. One, he was genuinely elected, whereas Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court in his first term. Bush is closer to Kim Jong Il in the sense that he would never have been President without his father. And in that sense there is a commonality of aristocratic or monarchical aspect to Bush’s appointment in 2000. Anyway, in Lee Myung-bak I think you have a person who came of age and made his career in the Park Chung Hee era and hasn’t really adapted to the post-dictatorial era. He wants to turn the clock back on any number of issues: on North Korea, to try and get tough with North Korea. I think the record of trying to get tough with North Korea shows that it generally doesn’t work. North Korea knows best that environment when their back is to the wall, and they always respond very negatively.
Also, I think the textbook issue of trying to revise all the important history that we’ve learned in the era of
democracy is very unwise. It’s like trying to get the toothpaste back into the tube after the toothpaste is squeezed out. It’s impossible. There are many scholars here and also victims and civil society groups that have thrown light on unfortunate aspects of post-Liberation Korean history, and from my point of view as a historian, this has been a very welcome development with all kinds of new information. And this is a matter of establishing some kind of balance in our understanding of postwar Korean history, between the official story of what happened and the story of the victims or of critics, we will eventually arrive at a rather complete history of post-Liberation Korea. That was a very positive development in South Korea. It isn’t “left wing” to uncover truths that have been covered up by dictatorships. And sometimes you wonder what kind of advice President Lee is getting because he took a hard line against North Korea almost at the same time Bush turned around and dropped his hard line and began engaging North Korea. And the textbook issue only draws attention to the stories that he doesn’t want people to pay attention to, so I think those two things have been a kind of disaster for President Lee.
P: The fact that he was genuinely elected while Bush was not speaks better for Korean democracy than for the American, but for President Lee Myung-bak this seems to have encouraged him to embark from the very first year on the kind of reckless unilateralism for which Bush needed 9/11. To be sure, Lee was reputed to be a pragmatist and some people still believe so, but I think he is a pragmatist only in the sense that he doesn’t have any firm principles except looking out for short term gains. A real pragmatist wouldn’t try to put the toothpaste back into the tube. And although it isn’t his fault that global economic crisis has erupted, you know the Subprime Mortgage crisis had already begun and well advanced in the US when he was promising a 7% GDP growth during his campaign. So this kind of poor judgment, inability to analyze the situation and collect competent advice must be counted as his fault.
C: Well, I think you have two governments in East Asia that try to gain legitimacy on the baseis of certain percentage of growth. China is growing at 9 or 10% a year. Lee Myung-bak said 7% a year and of course the model for that kind of thinking is Park Chung Hee who always faced a question of his legitimacy, delivering growth year in and year out. When you listen to Lee Myung-bak, you have to say that at the core level of his assumptions, he thinks things were wonderful when Park Chung Hee was president and he was moving up in the Hyundai Corporation, and then something terrible happened in 1998, whereas I think most of us look at 1998 as a watershed where the opposition for the first time truly came to power and opened a new era in South Korean politics, with labor getting rights for participating in politics and becoming an essential part of the South Korean political system, with the opening to the North which I think received tremendous results with the Sunshine Policy. So they were not ten lost years. But I don’t think Lee Myung-bak wants to be a dictator. I mean one of the greatest achievements here is that the military is firmly in the barracks. He is the President and maybe because he’s President for only five years he wanted to move quickly at the beginning of his term, but I do think at the core level of his assumptions he thinks of postwar history very differently from how you or I would.
P: Well, wanting to be a dictator and actually making it are two different things. I don’t know what Lee Myung-bak does want, but I would agree that he will not succeed in becoming a dictator even if he wanted to. We are a people who, as you observed, achieved democratization from the bottom up, and won’t let anybody to turn the clock back. As you mentioned, he talks of ‘ten lost years’, which is itself a preposterous proposition, but actually, as you also point out, he often seems to be thinking of twenty lost years, dreaming of the good old days before 1987.
C: Right. There’s a curious convergence between his view and that of Americans in Washington who fancy themselves as kind of handlers on Korean policy. On the bipartisan basis they liked Kim Dae-jung better than Rho Moo-Hyun but they did, many of them, feel that we needed to get back to the good old days of Korean-American relationship where we understood each other, and you didn’t have a President talking about independence from the United States or getting American troops out of Yongsan base and things like that. I think Lee Myung-bak may have been thinking he had a constituency in Washington more than here in Korea for the kind of comments he made when he first assumed office, and I think it’s very shortsighted on the part of Lee Myung Bak, because most of those people are quite old now in Washington, they’re not going to be around a long time. I don’t think they’re going to influence the Obama Administration. I wondered how he could warm up to President Bush the way he did at Camp David and elsewhere.
P: That wasn’t very pragmatic!
C: It wasn’t, when President Bush already had become the most unpopular President in American history, but even if you discount that, what about the fact that he only had less than a year in office. So that was short-sighted, but it may have been based on the idea that the Republicans would win again in 2008 and then Korean-American relations would be very good and very close, but of course that didn’t happen.
P: Well, you cited China and Korea as two cases where the government leaders had to have economic growth for their political legitimacy, but the sad thing is that in South Korea a President no longer has to achieve a 7% or 6% growth for his legitimacy.
C: That’s exactly right. And then that’s why it was strange that President Lee would always run on that basis, but as I’ve indicated, that’s what Park Chung Hee always argued, that he delivered rapid growth.
P: Because Park Chung Hee didn’t have constitutional legitimacy. But another factor may be that both in China and South Korea there is a big gap between rich and poor, so you do need a very high percentage of growth if you are to throw out some crumbs to the poor, and I think that since Lee Myung-bak has no policy for reducing the gap, he has to aim for a growth rate that’s impossible to achieve and probably more than is good for the country. But ‘ten lost years’ was a campaign slogan rather than the official motto of the new administration, which is, in Korean, sŏnjinhwa wonnyŏn—in English something like ‘Year One of Moving Toward an Advanced Nation’. The argument goes that we’ve accomplished industrialization, then democratization, and now it’s time to join advanced nations. If you take it at face value, it means that you embrace the fruits of both industrialization and democratization, and go on from there to become a more advanced economy but also toward a deepening of democracy. But what he is actually following is not the slogan of becoming truly advanced but the other one of ‘ten lost years’ or even twenty lost years.
C: Well, I remember in 1996 when Kim Young-sam was trying to have Korea join the OEDC there was a lot of talk about Korea becoming an advanced nation. In some ways it may be an inferiority mentality, but I think that from the standpoint of South Korea’s economy, and especially the human capital, Korea is an advanced country. And sometimes I think that Koreans don’t recognize that as much as people on the outside do, that maybe Lee Myung-bak thinks Korea is not advanced enough so it needs to be more advanced, and that he doesn’t really care so much about democratic development that has happened. I don’t really think he’s a politician. He was a businessman and manager in a very large firm and I would imagine that he looked at the protests and the long struggle for democratization as not something that really meant a lot to him. But I don’t see where the appeal is to talk about ten lost years, to what constituency he is appealing with that.
P: It managed to appeal to two very different groups simultaneously, which is why he won. One, those who during the 10 years really lost nothing except political power, in other words the rich and privileged—as you can see from the profiles of his ministers and buddies. They are all quite rich and have been increasing their wealth during the past decade, most of them. But they had lost political power ago and had great grievances because they never thought their God-given right to domination would be taken away from them. And their reckless use of that power since taking office shows how keenly they had been feeling the loss.
And then, there were a large number of ordinary people whose living conditions had deteriorated drastically after the IMF bailout in 1997. Even though Korean economy began its recovery under Kim Dae-jung and was doing pretty well under Roh Moo-hyun in terms of macroeconomic indices, decent growth rate, high stock prices, current account surplus and so on, lives of common people had indeed become impoverished. So the slogan of ‘ten lost year’ resonated among both the rich and poor, for entirely different reasons; there came about a sort of grand national coalition, an unbeatable coalition at the time. It now turns out that Lee Myung-bak not only cannot sustain economic growth, which is not all his fault, but he has really no thought of improving ordinary people’s lives. All the economic measures he’s launching are in favor of the rich and the powerful.
C: I was very interested in this coalition that Lee Myung-bak put together because it had the direct analogy in the Bush coalition in the US, and a lot of people whose livelihoods had deteriorated voted for Bush. But in the US much of this can be explained by cultural and social issues like abortion or fundamentalist religion or opposition to gay marriage, things like that, whereas in Korea I don’t see that there are cultural or social issues that would bring poor people to vote against their own interest.
P: Well, the general perception here was that Lee Myung-bak was a pragmatist, and in that respect people made a sensible choice in picking Lee Myung-bak over Park Geun-hye when they had gotten tired of Rho Moo-hyun. But I think we are lately waking up to the fact that he’s not a real pragmatist, at any rate not competent enough to act pragmatically. Another image of Lee Myung-bak that I would question is his being a successful CEO, because as you can imagine there were no real CEOs under Chung Ju-young in the Hyundai conglomerate, they were all COOs whatever their formal title, with only one super-CEO. Lee Myung-bak prides himself on his nickname of a bulldozer, but I say he was a bulldozer driven by Chung Ju-young, and without the driver he is more of a bull in a china shop.
C: Well, let me ask you a question because this is the same question North Koreans would have. I assume that Lee Myung-bak as a Hyundai executive would actually want to develop relations with North Korea, mainly economic relations the way Chung Ju-young did. But he doesn’t seem to care.
P: You know, I never had any illusions that Lee Myung-bak would fulfill his campaign promise of making South Korea an advanced society, but I did think that he would be pragmatic at least in his relationship with North Korea, that in some ways he could launch even bolder initiatives than previous administrations because as a conservative he could act more confidently in engaging North Korea. But things have turned out quite otherwise, and that is really another reason why I’ve come to revise my image of him as a pragmatist.
C: It’s very hard to explain because I don’t see what interests are being served by his policy toward North Korea.
P: I think one reason may be that he ran into strong domestic opposition in the early days of the Administration and his popularity ratings dropped quite drastically. So what he decided at that point was to appeal to his conservative—or to be more blunt, reactionary—constituency rather than trying to gain broader support. Since then he has been a sort of hostage to those people.
C: That’s a good way to put it.
P: There are quite a few people in South Korea who live in a fantasy world as George W. Bush did, believing that North Korea would collapse very soon, and that if we kept pressure on it and had the patience to wait, then all sorts of good things would come to pass. Now as you have argued since the days immediately following the unification of Germany, it’s not going to happen any time soon, and certainly things wouldn’t be so good even if it did happen. Lee Myung-bak himself has been sort of vacillating in his attitude towards the North. At first North Koreans were very patient, they waited about a hundred days between his election until the end of March, then they started attacking him harshly and personally, which hasn’t helped.
C: I’m afraid this situation rather exemplifies what you’ve written about so often and so well, regarding the ‘division system’. This new situation just emerged in both North and South spontaneously to the human eye, but in fact it’s just a matter of getting the old forces in motion again and it’s very disheartening to see how rapidly the division system essentially came back to life.
P: I have argued among other things that there are forces on both sides of the peninsula sustaining the division system. Even though on the surface they are very opposed to each other, they share this common interest.
C: Oh, I think that’s true. I think we’ve talked about this before, but I think the hardliners in the Pentagon also have a symbiotic relationship with hardliners in North Korea, especially with the Soviet Union gone, so that their defense projects really depend on having enemies like North Korea. But here the system that you’ve analyzed is so deep and so longstanding that it can be instantly reenergized by events like Lee Myung-bak’s attitude and the North harshly condemning him.
But I was very impressed by the agreement that came out of the second summit meeting between Rho Moo-hyun and Kim Jong Il, particularly the economic agreements for opening up the ports on the West coast and Haeju and Nampo, and so on, and I wrote a couple of articles here in Korea that were about the political economy of that agreement and how it would fit with Rho Moo-hyun’s ideas of a hub economy in Northeast Asia. What’s astonishing to me is that Lee Myung-bak has been more critical of the second summit than the first, and yet it laid out a blueprint for a very rational kind of economic engagement with North Korea, and one that would be of great mutual benefit. So it may be that he’s just like George Bush, in that he doesn’t want to do anything that his predecessor did.
P: The second summit agreement of Ocober 4, 2007 laid down a concrete program for implementing the earlier June 15 Joint Declaration of 2000. So for anybody who is opposed to what has been going on, the second one would be even more unpalatable than the first one. Of course, you can understand how any successor would naturally feel some displeasure about a predecessor who just before the end of his term makes all these agreements for the next President to carry out. But all he has to do is to announce that he supports the October 4th Declaration in principle and go on from there, proposing that the two sides get together and see what to implement first and what should be put off. The plan for a special peace and prosperity zone in the West Sea is the part of the Declaration that Rho Moo-hyun himself was most proud of. Not that it could be implemented right away in any event, but because it finally resolved, or more accurately defused, the dispute about the Northern Limit Line in the Western coastal area, which had been a serious obstacle for any further extension of inter-Korean relations in other areas as well.
C: I was very excited by those plans when I read them, but politics just intervened. Think of it from the North Korean standpoint, they make agreements with Kim Dae -jung and Rho Moo-hyun and those agreements don’t count for the next administration, just as when they made agreements with Bill Clinton that didn’t count when Bush came in. People forget that Clinton signed an agreement, signed a statement that North Korea and the U.S. would not have hostile intent toward each other. And Bush just ripped it up and put North Korea in the ‘Axis of Evil’. It’s no way to conduct diplomacy. It means that North Koreans can’t count on the word of democratic leaders to be continued by whoever succeeds them. I’m sure it’s very frustrating for them.
P: What do you think of the prospects for US-DPRK relations under Obama?
C: Well, I think an obvious point to make is that he has hired many people from the Clinton Administration and Hilary Clinton herself as part of his team, and it would be very easy for them to go back to agreements that Bill Clinton had made like the one I mentioned, but especially the missile agreement to buy out North Korea’s medium and long rage missiles. Clinton had essentially completed that agreement in November and December in 2000, but the Bush Administration didn’t like it and let it drop to the floor. So on a pragmatic level you could imagine them going back to find the papers and put them into implementation, but there are also many people in the Obama administration from the Clinton period who are concerned about proliferation and that has a good side and a bad side. It means that we’ll want to make agreements with North Korea, but it also brings back people who in 1994 planned for a preemptive attack on Yŏngbyŏn plutonium facility, so that’s a danger. But I think Barack Obama is a remarkable person, and in his own vision head and shoulders above those people. I don’t know Obama personally, but I know of him because a number of friends of mine knew him quite well and lived very near him in Chicago. Many professors and friends of mine live in the same neighborhood as Obama, in the area called Kenwood just north of the University, and they have a kind of rolling political discussion that goes from one person’s house to another, at Friday night dinners. In that neighborhood he was exposed to a range of political views much wider than any other President in recent memory. Professor Rasheed Khalidi who was a Middle East expert who went from Chicago to Columbia was a good friend of Obama’s. He would sit at Rasheed Khalidi’s table and discuss the Middle East, and Rasheed is a very moderate Palestinian but he’s still a Palestinian, so he’s going to give a different view than an Israeli would. And I’ve talked to those friends of mine, they play basketball with Obama and they all think that he has a wider vision, a wider range of vision and wider political spectrum of acceptability than any recent President. If you compare that to Bill Clinton who came out of Arkansas as an Arkansas politician, I think you can see that Obama is a very worldly person, not only in his own upbringing and the places he lived, but in the associates he had at the University of Chicago and in the city of Chicago, and so I think that you’re going to see a very different kind of diplomacy from Obama than even the Clinton years. I don’t think Clinton’s North Korea policy was really sorted out very well. I don’t think he paid much attention. He nearly got into a war with North Korea in 1994, then came the Agreed Framework and he didn’t pay any attention to that because of the right wing and Republican Party opposing it, and then in 1998 and ‘99, mainly I think through the prodding from Kim Dae-jung, the Clinton Administration developed a second set of engagement policies with North Korea, but Bill Clinton himself never paid much attention to North Korea or Iran for that matter. So I think Obama is—I mean I think we can have high hopes for him being a post-Cold War President, a very worldly President and one who is going to use unorthodox means toward dealing with American adversaries. I don’t think he’s going to run off and meet with Kim Jong Il anytime soon, but I do think he has a sensibility that is quite different from any President going back quite a long way.
P: Well, I would think his diplomacy will be not only different from Bush’s—
C: That goes with out saying.
P: But also from Clinton’s. For one thing, as you say, Clinton didn’t have any vision about settling the relationship with North Korea. And secondly I think the whole situation has changed during the past 8 years. At that time it was the missiles, this time it’s nuclear weapons plus the missiles. Also, I think the North Koreans probably feel more insecure, in a more precarious position than 8 years ago. So if Obama just digs up the old papers from the last days of the Clinton administration and try just to implement those, the North Koreans may not be ready to go along. By the way, have you read a recent article by John Feffer on the Japan Focus web page?
P: I found it very interesting. It’s called “The North Korean Conundrum: Change You Can Believe In or Policy Status Quo?” He argues that you can’t solve the North Korean nuclear problem just by offering more goodies than Bush was willing to give. You would have to really engage North Korea in an entirely different way, mainly by supporting what he calls a regime change that North Korea has already embarked on. Their turn from doctrinaire socialism to what Kim Jong Il calls ‘real gain socialism’ should be encouraged and supported by an American program of much more active engagement.
C: I think the most vulnerable period in North Korean history after the Korean War was in 1996, ‘97, ‘98 when they had the floods and famine and very sharp confrontation with the Clinton Administration over the long rang missile test at the end of August 1998. Then of course Kim Dae-jung had come to power and was implementing his reconciliation policy with the North and this slowly had an impact on the Clinton Administration to change its policies. But I think that was the period when maybe even the North Koreans themselves wondered whether they were going to survive. And the very fact that they’re still in power 10 years after the famine probably gives the Northern leadership more confidence than it had in the late ‘90s. I think what is vulnerable in North Korea is precisely the reforms that Feffer talked about. I mean in that article he described the extensive marketization of North Korea and that has turned it into a different place than it was 10 years ago. Most Americans including very well-informed American leaders don’t really know that about North Korea. It’s another reason why the second summit was so important because it coincided with the economic plans we talked about earlier, coincided with the move toward more markets, market allocation in North Korea. So I think John is right about the new markets, but I think he was wrong to use the term “regime change” because that implies overthrowing the North Korean government and it very much plays into the hands of hardliners in North Korea, but if you stipulate without using that term that American policy could support the moves toward market reforms while proceeding along the path of dismantling the Yongbyon reactor, I think that’s a policy that might work but it would have to be accompanied by guarantees of North Korean security along the lines Clinton made in 2000. I agree with John on that, but I think the worst problem we’ve today that we did not have in the 1990s is that North Korea actually exploded the atomic bomb. It’s been very hard for Christopher Hill in going forward with the dismantling of the Yongbyon reactor, because people question whether the North Koreans would ever give up their atomic bombs. I myself think that you have to nail down what you can nail down—in other words, if you can get rid of the Yongbyon plutonium reactor, that’s good, get rid of it. With the atomic bombs I don’t think there’s a chance you could ever be sure that they would give up all of their weapons, or even if they gave some up that they would not be hiding some. But if you nailed down everything else and then get rid of the missiles, it doesn’t matter so much that they have a couple of nuclear weapons to make them feel good. And that is an agreement that is doable. In Washington that would be criticized, but it’s doable and it will make a series of progressive steps that will make it very difficult for North Korea to claim to be a nuclear power or actually be a nuclear weapons state. But I think it’s going to be something that’s hard to sell to the Congress if there’s a chance that North Korea retains one or two or three nuclear weapons. When I talk about this to people, I say that our siege policy—you write about ‘the siege regime’ in North Korea in your book The Korean Division System in Crisis—the American siege against North Korea has produced the worst outcome because it’s a kind of rational response on their part. So if you looked at it in the context of 60 years of America bringing siege against this small country, its not surprising a) that they developed a nuclear weapon and b) it isn’t so terrible if they retain some capability. There are 15,000 underground facilities in North Korea that relate to their security. You can’t ever expect to be able to have inspection teams going through all of them. And even if they did, they could move the weapons across the Chinese border and just bring them back in a truck. I mean, it’s kind of an absurd demand to say that we have to find every last nuclear weapon that they have. So if you stipulate that, you’re not going to get a perfect outcome. I think the Obama administration would get a very good outcome from negotiations with North Korea. What I hope is that Obama will fulfill his campaign pledge to speak to leaders that don’t like us. And that doesn’t have to mean a summit meeting or something like that, it just has to mean an orientation toward dialogue and diplomacy. And I think he will do that.
P: When I said Pyongyang may feel more insecure now than say 8 years ago, I—of course I agree with you that in many objective conditions they are much better off now than 10 years ago, but on one hand they have this danger of economic reforms being imperiled and if they fail, they really don’t have a choice because this is another case of ‘toothpaste out of the tube’, they can’t go back to the old regime however much they may wish. I am sure there are many people in North Korean ruling circles who wish they could go back. So there is this danger that John Feffer mentions, but I think there is also another danger that I’m sure the North Korean rulers are very much aware of. That is the danger that would arise from the very success of economic reforms, and from the American siege being lifted, which will make their ‘siege regime’ much harder to justify to their people. Many progressive people in South Korea advocate for North Korea the kind of reform and opening that we see in China and Vietnam, but I doubt that it’s a feasible prospect in the present situation of division. Both China and Vietnam embarked on their course of reform after they had resolved their national division. I mean, In China’s case there remains the question of Taiwan but it’s more the threat of secession of a runaway province than anything comparable to the division of the Korean Peninsula or of erstwhile Vietnam. The Vietnamese of course won the war of national liberation against the Americans, and started their Doi Moi policy only afterwards. But South Korea will be there however the low tension may have become. There will always be a threat of some kind of unilateral absorption by the South as time goes on, so there has to be some political framework to guarantee the stability of the North Korean regime.
C: If you look at President Kim Dae-jung’s policies, he thought about all of this. I mean his idea was that American troops would stay in South Korea even in the context of reconciliation before reunification with the North, and that would be among other things to maintain the border of the DMZ as a guarantee against absorption by South Korea. He pledged not to absorb North Korea, of course. And what you could imagine would be a North Korean Doi Moi in the context of Hong Kong-like situation where the border is maintained like an international border. Otherwise, millions of Chinese would be in Hong Kong the next morning, and if you maintain the DMZ as a kind of prophylactic barrier between North and South Korea, while the US has a good normalized relationship with Pyongyang, Pyongyang could embark on these reforms without worry that they’d be swallowed by the South. I think there was great logic in Kim Dae-jung’s policies in this regard that a lot of people in America, including leaders in Washington, don’t really understand.
P: Actually, the point I’m trying to make is that Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong Il in the year 2000 already agreed on a general formula about how to proceed beyond peaceful coexistence. The June 15 Declaration not only guaranteed the stability of the inter-Korean border for the time being, but it also agreed on a formula for gradual, step-by-step reunification. They agreed that there were common points between the Southern idea of a confederation or union of states and the Northern idea of a low-stage federation. And what I’m saying is that once the US-DPRK relations are normalized and North-South exchanges greatly expanded, then we should really think more seriously about the second article of the June 15th Declaration with the union of states formula, because we’ll need by then a political framework which is a little tighter than the two quite separate states promising to coexist, but not too tight to threaten the regime on either side.
C: Well, I think that’s right. But with North Korea I wonder myself, are they more worried about absorption by the South or are they more fearing their own people and conditions when reforms move forward successfully? I think the experience of China and Vietnam can give the North Korean leadership some confidence about going forward with the market reforms. In the U.S. you wouldn’t think there were any more Communist regimes, you know, they all collapsed in 1989 to 1991, but in fact what you had in East Asia is a kind of de-Communization in China and Vietnam, where particularly military leaders become heads of conglomerates and they start making money and they sell their products around the world, and you get a devolution from the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) to corporate fiefdoms, and the same has happened in Vietnam, and it’s sometimes Communist party bureaucrats who do it. That’s happening in North Korea. I mean Cho Myŏngnok, who is a General who came and met with President Clinton in 2000, presides over the conglomerate that manufactures missiles and missile parts. In that kind of a situation, Communists see a future for themselves, of being wealthy man in a state-directed market economy.
P: Well, I guess it’s about time for us to move on to the global economic crisis, and then to the East Asian response. Neither of us is an economist, but you at least as a historian have delved into the Northeast Asian political economy.
C: Well, I find all this pretty funny because I’m at the University of Chicago where we have the Chicago School of economics, and the Chicago School has been a dominant voice in economic thinking since the Reagan administration. It’s a fact that our economists are very quiet now because their fundamental prescription that the unregulated market can solve everyone’s problems has come crashing to the ground. I think we’re in a very profound crisis that will last a long time and is directly analogous to the Great Depression. The Depression caused a fundamental paradigm shift that lasted essentially 50 years in the world; the idea that markets could solve everybody’s problems or the problems of allocation of goods and services was thrown down, and instead arose the notion of regulated capitalism with the New Deal being a good example of that but after World War II the social market in Germany, the French system, the Japanese kind of corporate capitalism, and so forth. Those were all responses to the Depression and the War that grew out of the Depression, and the fundamental idea was that you had to have a floor on poverty and you had to care for those people who couldn’t care for themselves. This was an outgrowth of the crisis of the 1930s and it really lasted until the Reagan administration in the US. 1980 was a turning point where for the past 30 years all we hear is, just let the market rule, leave the market alone, let the market handle our problems. Well, I don’t think the Chicago economists who were always saying this can get up in front of an audience now and say that with a straight face. So that paradigm has been blasted to smithereens by the Subprime crisis that began as you said more than a year ago, but it culminated in the credit crisis that we have now, and one of the interesting things about living through this history for you and me and other people who kind of pride themselves on trying to understand the way the world works is that you can’t find anybody that knows solutions to our problems now. And people like Henry Paulson the Treasury Secretary, Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve Board, also Alan Greenspan who is now out of office, they don’t have a remedy for the problems we face, and so we have a classic crisis where all the old remedies don’t work and there isn’t a sign yet of what the new ones will be. But I think that the depth of the crisis can be grasped in that it began with the subprime mortgage loans given to people who didn’t really have the wherewithal to pay them back, and then that went into derivatives which are instruments growing out of the mortgages that spread all over the world, and then those derivatives were insured by Credit Default Swaps which is a term nobody heard of before the crisis. CDSs are a kind of unregulated insurance; if they called it insurance, the US Government would regulate it. And the total of CDS, their so-called value is now said to be between 50 trillion and 75 trillion dollars. Now, when you’re at that level, it’s greater than the combined GNP of all the countries in the world. It means that these financial instruments were priced in ways that a lot of people made a great deal of money, but the price has no relationship to reality, and so we’re in the beginning probably of a rather long deflation like the Great Depression. Whether it will become a depression is of course something none of us can answer, but it has smashed the paradigm of the unregulated market and it will no longer be possible for people to make those arguments until you have another 50 years go by and people forget what happened in 2008.
P: In the search for new remedies or a new paradigm, it seems to me three thinkers who are also economists prominently come to mind. One is John Maynard Keynes, and the other two are Karl Polanyi and Karl Marx. Now, in the sense that all governments are taking a more activist attitude to the economic crisis, Keynesians are coming back instead of the Chicago people, but given the magnitude of the problem you’ve just described, it’s questionable whether Keynesian economics could really address the problems. It might be just another of the old remedies even though a much better one than the Chicago School’s neo-liberal formula. There may be both short term and long term problems with the Keynesian remedy. Even in the short run the magnitude of the problem may be too huge for government activism to remedy, although one certainly couldn’t do without government interventions. But secondly, supposing Keynesian activism does succeed and bring the situation under control for the time being, it might still run into new problems, including the classical problem of stagflation but possibly others stemming from a new stage of world capitalism quite unlike the 1930s and ‘40s. Which is why I think we need to move on from Keynes to Polanyi and, for even more fundamental reflections, back to Marx.
C: Well, I think you pose the problem on the right level in the sense that for Karl Marx something like a derivative or credit default swap is a classic example of capital, and when you read Das Kapital, he talks about capital as often something quite mysterious. It’s a relationship between human beings where a price is put on something but you don’t quite know whether the price is correct or not. And both parties to the transaction have to agree on price for the price to be right. He has a very interesting passage in Kapital where he talks about gold and why we value gold, and it’s worth rereading because it demonstrates the degree to which a commodity like a “credit default swap” is a fiction. It’s a fictional thing and can crash to the ground when people can no longer agree on its price, and people have no idea how to price these things today, even a home that has a structure and stability and where a family lives—even that can’t be priced well.
But I think Polanyi’s Great Transformation is a great diagnosis of the situation we find ourselves in because human beings like to enter into a fantasy world where they think the market can be the answer, and then they find that people have to control the market because the market can’t control itself. But what Polanyi finds so dangerous in his analysis of the 1930s is that in the Great Depression as it got worse and worse, one nation after another broke off and went on an autarchic path according to the idiosyncrasies of each country, so you got a new order in Germany and Japan, a New Deal in the United States, Socialism in One Country in the Soviet Union, but you have the fundamental breakdown of the world economy and every nation is out for itself, and that of course is the seed of World War II. Today, I don’t think we have the kind of social configurations in the U.S. or Europe or Japan or Korea, where you would have a fascist movement or a Communist movement developing. In the 1930s there were still very strong reactionary influences from landlords and aristocracies so that the German or Japanese configuration could take a very reactionary form. I think maybe the part of the world where you see a Polanyi-like development in politics is Latin America where they have broken off one country after another against neo-liberalism, in Argentina especially, also to some extent in Brazil and smaller countries. So I can’t understand how this crisis could take the political form that Polanyi discusses so brilliantly in his book, of new orders and new deals in the 1930s, every country going on its own, reconfiguring both its economy and its politics. In the U.S. Keynes was the key theorist of the 1930s, and today Keynesiansm may have the possibility of solving our problems in the next few years by re-regulating Wall Street mortgages and a whole host of other things and in the American case fulfilling finally goals of universal healthcare. It’s possible. It may not happen, but that’s exactly where the Obama administration is going. When you look at an economy like South Korea from the U.S., there are certain fundamentals that are very good that haven’t been touched by this crisis, except that people aren’t buying as much. High technology industries, for instance. Samsung is the new Sony in this country; and in Silicon Valley when you look at the stock valuations, they’ve gone down, but in the case of Microsoft and Cisco Systems it’s only been 10 or 15%. And they’re still producing very well what they produce, and it’s the best sector and the most powerful sector of both the American and Korean economies, whereas finance is really only about 10 to 15% of the economy. So you can see how through good Keynesian regulation, restabilizing the financial sector and enabling it to lend again, the more advanced sectors of the economy could be in good shape fairly quickly. In the US, it’s the second industrial revolution industries that are failing, automobiles preeminently, steel and chemicals and other industries. But with the automobiles you have still an industry that is very central to the health of the American economy, and Detroit can move very quickly to hybrid automobiles and electric cars, and because of this crisis Americans are going to be purchasing American cars if they can to help out Detroit, but they have to provide good models, good cars. So I think Obama’s idea of using this crisis to make the U.S. green, much more green than it is now environmentally, is a good idea and it’s doable. Korea is an economy that is remarkable for its human capital and there is nothing about this crisis that’s going to change that. So in that sense, while I do think that this crisis is one that may develop the depth of the Great Depression, I don’t think it has the potential to spin off fascist and Communist polarization in the world. When you look at Barrington Moore’s classic book, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, which is really about the idiosyncratic social formations in different countries and how they tend toward democracy or dictatorship, I don’t think we have those conditions in the advanced industrial economies today.
P: I think the best part of Polanyi’s work is in diagnosing what terrible things can happen when there is a disjunction between economy and the other parts of society.
C: Yes, well, one of the passages I always ask my students about and at first they don’t get it, you know. I say, “Polanyi has three commodity fictions, what are they?” Well, they can come up with a couple but not all three. First, it’s man: that human beings are commodities that sell their labor in a market is a fiction. Human beings have to be looked out for or looked after even when they’re not working, so they have to have a roof over their head and food and all of that. The second is land, the fiction that land which is the environment we live in can be sold like any other commodity. And the third is capital: that capital itself is a commodity fiction, which is where he shares a lot of agreement with Karl Marx. And for my students today I tell them if you want to see the commodity fiction operate, all you have to look at is the fictional mortgages called Subprime Mortgages, the fictional derivatives and the fictional Credit Default Swaps. They’re like viruses moving through the world economy, contaminating everybody and the reason is that there is nothing behind them. You can’t say there’s a quality investment that can be priced in a market, and it’s all going up in smoke before our very eyes. And so it’s a very instructive moment about why the market itself has to be regulated.
P: If Polanyi were alive today and trying to find a remedy for the global crisis, he would have to seek for some formula to reinvent an economy embedded in society and culture, but not at the national level but at global or at least regional levels, and that is why I feel that we need some kind of analysis of capitalism itself by moving from Keynes to Polanyi and then on to Marx. Marx’s analysis actually didn’t agree too well with national situations in his day, but perhaps it becomes more persuasive when you put it in today’s global context.
C: Well, that’s what I think Polanyi did at the end of his book. The first edition came out in 1944; he would have had written it at the height of World War II, and at the end of the book he essentially called for social democracy on a world scale, a new world system, but also in the epilogue talked about the values of the Old Testament, the New Testament and some kind of modern equivalent. He comes back to the philosopher Spinoza who tried to take Old Testament values and realize them in the here and now through some sort of social program, and I think that message of Polanyi’s epilogue will resonate throughout the industrial world. The move toward a different kind of world system is one that in a sense did happen after 1945. Its foundation was of course a capitalist one but it was also a regulated New Deal for the world as Roosevelt saw it, with the IMF and the World Bank and other mechanisms in the same year of Polanyi’s book, 1944, and I think for the advanced industrial world those mechanisms worked well to revive wartime economies in Europe and East Asia. But neo-liberalism of the 1990s was essentially the international equivalent of the Chicago School in domestic economy, and it has been dealt a very heavy blow by this crisis. Among the Latin American left wing governments there has already been a very strong reaction against neo-liberalism. In the case of Europe, East Asia and the US, too, I don’t think you’re going to hear a lot of neo-liberal talk coming out of the mouths of leaders.
P: Except from the current South Korean government, though even here they don’t like to call it by the name ‘neo-liberalism’.
C: But President Lee Myung-bak is in a time warp. He was elected in the wrong place at the wrong time for his policies, so he’s been bumping his head against the wall. But from the standpoint of your work on the division system and its connection to the world system, we’re essentially at the point Polanyi was talking about, where we do need something to overcome neo-liberalism on a world scale, and it might be that the European Union is an example of at least trying to do that, because they have tried to develop a region-wide stimulus package to get their economies moving again. Germany, the biggest economy, is still balking, but if Germany and France and the EU countries can move together in the direction of the stimulus and a transnational economic policies, that will help pull us out of this crisis. That would be good, but it would still be founded on a capitalist model.
P: I would agree that the capitalist world system entered a new stage in 1945, but I wouldn’t say that there was any fundamental change in the system. The spread of welfare programs among advanced industrial nations would be equivalent to the adoption of welfare policies within some advanced national economies in the pervious stage. That’s not a transformation of capitalism into some kind of welfare capitalism. At the global level the same kind of inequalities have persisted.
C: I think that the policies that I talked about after 1945, the Bretton Woods agreements and the social market in Germany and so on, these were all very beneficial to the populations in the advanced industrial countries. And almost all of those countries except for the US were ones that had been completely or partially destroyed during World War II and so rebuilding those economies, in Japan and Germany especially, was a ticket to very rapid growth. I do think that in a country like Germany or France, or Italy for that matter in spite of its crazy politics, people were able to achieve a combination of decent growth, social welfare and civilizational congruity that maybe is about as good as you can get in the real world, in the sense that when I go to cities like Paris or Munich or Berlin, I think well this is the way civilized people live. It doesn’t mean that the world system as a whole is not one of extraordinary and gross inequality because it is, but in Germany you don’t see that gross inequality. In my own country you see it all the time. I live that gross inequality in that the University of Chicago is on the South Side that most white people are afraid to visit. I don’t see those conditions in Korea or Germany or France. The U.S. is backward in that sense, and it is by virtue of the devotion of American leaders to market solutions that we end up with millions of people having no livelihood whatsoever. But the US in a sense is a microcosm of the larger world system. And in that respect capitalism doesn’t provide a remedy.
P: There is no doubt at all that by now neo-liberalism provides no remedy. But if you take a very long view of capitalist world system, you could say that neo-liberalism was in a sense a logical response to capitalism’s inherent inability to remedy the problems of inequality and poverty and so on. Since you couldn’t solve the problem for everybody anyway—
C: —why not solve it just for some people?
P: Exactly. And they couldn’t do even that either without creating all these bubbles. And this brings back Marx’s idea of the falling rate of profit. Now all these bubbles—I mean, on the surface it’s the credit crisis that has created the current economic problems now reaching the Main Street or the real economy, but behind the financial crisis may actually lie the falling rate of profit, which necessitates the creation of these continuous bubbles to keep the economy going, and they have to burst some time or other. Now I’m not trying to go back to the old—
C: The remedy that Polanyi has at the end of his book is a social democracy on the world scale that implies some kind of world government, some kind of global mechanism of governance that would redistribute wealth as well as create wealth, and I think you and I could agree that that would be a much better system than the one that we have today. I think it’s important to realize that we’re living in a world as people who have been around for a while, we being in our 60s, where a number of solutions to the problem of inequality have been tried and unfortunately several of them failed. And certainly the collapse of socialism, collapse of the Soviet Union, was a blow to those of us who wanted to believe in some sort of progressive solution, because they turned out not to have the answer to many problems. That vast attempt to solve the problem of inequality essentially failed. And the capitalist attempts, whether the regulated New Deal or the neo-liberal follow up to that in the ‘90s have failed, too, when it comes to inequality on a world scale. I think markets are good for allocating goods and services when they are controlled and regulated. So we have to have some mechanisms to have democratic politics, or regulated market and redistributive programs, and it’s redistributed programs that are in my country so hard to achieve.
P: I agree with what you say about the failed attempts to the solve problem of capitalism. That’s why I was about to say I’m not trying to go back to the old model of a general crisis of capitalism automatically leading to revolution and to the establishment of a socialist society and so on. But you mentioned Latin America as an example of a regional movement or a set of separate movements within the region, to build something like what Polanyi envisaged. Personally I am eager to see if they will come up with a coherent alternative to neo-liberalism, and in case they do, whether it will be a variant of old social democracy or something more radically new. But perhaps we should focus on the possibilities of a specifically East Asian response to the crisis, which may offer the world a new and meaningful alternative.
C: Japan dealt with these problems all through the 1990s as a country that has a large welfare system but also had a sclerotic leadership both in the Liberal Democratic Party and the government. They tried different palliatives to get the economy moving again, none of which worked. In conditions somewhat similar to what we all face today, deflation, falling real estate crisis, collapsed mortgages and so on, Japan has not solved the problem even 10 years later. I mean, the economy in Japan is decent, it grows here and there although next year they will have minus growth, but Japan gives us an example of one East Asian response to the crisis of tinkering a little bit here and there. China’s is I think the most untested East Asian response because they’ve been used to 30 years of double-digit growth. And China has to grow about 8% to bring all the new people in, to give jobs to all the new people being produced every year for the job market. So if they fall to a 4 or 3% growth they have a huge problem of unemployment and social unrest. In the case of Korea, Lee Myung-bak says that it will be 3% next year. I think probably his government will be in the Japanese tinkering mode of trying to do relatively small things by way of response. North Korea is a country that you might think its political economy was made to deal with a crisis like this by virtue of self-reliance and relative lack of involvement in world economy, but it would be impossible to say that North Korea is a model for anyone at this point. I think the United States is going to be the most interesting country in terms of how it responds to the crisis. It was the source of the problem to begin with, and how the Obama Administration deals with it will probably be a good indication of how other countries are going to deal with the crisis. Of course I don’t know how he’s going to deal with it, but I think you’re right that certainly Keynes is going to be a key thinker for him, and unfortunately Polanyi won’t be. It will be quite fascinating to see how this plays out. Fascinating for us as intellectuals, maybe not so fascinating for people about to lose jobs or having already lost their jobs. I do hope this crisis would be one like the 1930s in the sense that people would come to a new recognition that markets have to be controlled and that the least among us have to be supported if anybody is going to get wealthy.
The problem with the falling rate of profit that you mentioned is a very interesting one, because in the US we move from one bubble to another, the Silicon Valley bubble of the late 1990s and then a real estate bubble and then now a credit crunch not necessarily a bubble, a bubble has been punctured. I’m not sure that any of those had to happen in a regulated capitalist economy. You could make 7% profit a year at Cisco Systems and still be relatively happy. I mean, the tendency of capitalism to always push things toward a bubble is unquestionably true of the United States but not so true of other advanced industrial economies. In England under Blair and Thatcher I think you have the same tendency, but I don’t think it’s a necessary tendency in that through regulation and maybe even profit ceilings of some kind or a tax system that would confiscate a lot of the wealth of people who do very well in the bubble. Some people say that is a Communist idea. It’s not. Our top tax rate was about 90% until the Reagan years. So if you make 10 million dollars, you only got 1 million dollars out of it. Now that is not a Communist or even socialist idea. It’s just a way of redistributing wealth.
P: I agree. As for the falling rate of profit, that of course is a thesis at a very high level of abstraction, applicable to global capital as such rather than its various local instances. But I am really out of my depths here, and we had better get back to East Asia. First of all, let me say that in Korea we would be happy enough if our government emulated even the Japanese model of tinkering, for they would at least be doing something positive. But I’m afraid unless Korean civil society mobilizes itself once again to somehow rein in this regime, they won’t be satisfied with tinkering, they would want to rush full speed in reverse gear.
C: That would be just another way in which he’s just in a time warp.
P: And that would be another way for him to contribute to the deepening of democracy in this country.
C: That could be a silver lining.
P: Yes. Now regarding East Asia, I think there are two conflicting prospects. One, that East Asian economies will come off better than other regions or at least the United States because they enjoy strong fundamentals in so many areas and, in Japan for instance and Korea too in a different way following the financial crisis in 1997, have dealt with these problems for the past 15 years. Also, China and Japan have a lot of cash, and ready money speaks even more loudly in a time of depression, so it should work to the advantage of the Northeast Asian region. The other view is that since these economies are so much oriented toward exports, they will suffer more than others.
C: I think Japan, Korea and China all have a problem because Americans aren’t buying and therefore consumer spending in the US will definitely affect exports. Even Toyota is being hurt by the fact that Americans don’t want to buy cars. But I think that China is the country that is most vulnerable to the decline in the American market because of its necessity to grow at 8, 9, 10%, as we were saying a minute ago. There is one company that is doing better in the U.S. and that’s Wal-Mart, because Americans are going from Macy’s to Wal-Mart to buy Christmas presents. And something like an eighth of all Chinese imports to the United States are from Wal-Mart subsidiaries in China, so that is one mechanism that could keep China’s exports going. In the case of South Korea, I think their bank exposure is greater than Japan’s to the viruses in the international financial system, but I also think Korea, because it’s involved so heavily in knowledge industries and doing so well in them, is relatively better off than a number of other countries that don’t have that kind of basis.
P: Well, in the event that Northeast Asian countries are less ravaged by the current economic crisis, this might create a different problem, in the sense that people might just want to ride out the storm and wait for the good old days to come back rather than really thinking hard about new solutions.
C: Well, I’m sure that will happen in Japan, it’s a country that’s rudderless. I mean, their leadership consists of one Prime Minister after another who comes into office and is almost immediately unpopular and lasts maybe a year or so, and now Aso is also very unpopular. So Japan has a crisis of political leadership that goes back to the loss of their sense of what they were doing circa 1990. So I think tinkering in economic policy and serial replacement of Prime Ministers is likely in Japan, and I don’t think you’re going to see the kind of restructuring or reform that is needed.
P: I think Korea is a crucial variable in this picture. One, because as I said we happen to have a President who is determined to go on with the old way of deregulation and tax cuts for the rich and so on, which is necessitating civil society and opposition forces to rise up and try to rein in this kind of preposterous behavior.
C: It’s much more likely to happen in Korea than in Japan.
P: Yes, I hope and trust that it will happen in Korea. And if this kind of input from below succeeds in bringing about a reversal in government policy, it will produce a more fundamental rethinking than if the President voluntarily listened to some Keynesian advisors and opted for the tinkering formula. And another factor peculiar to us is the relation between North and South Korea because—well, things are at a standstill now, but if they start moving again and we develop collaborative projects between a fairly advanced capitalist economy and a very different kind of economy, this would create all kinds of new opportunities and also the necessity for innovative projects and it will also expand the space for innovation and creative thinking within South Korea.
C: We should start by going back to the second summit agreement we were discussing before, but I think the Lee Myung-bak Administration has to change its policy because it’s quite isolated now, in that nobody is paying attention to it in the Six-Party Talks because there is a tendency for South Korea and Japan to band together and Japan has been isolated in the six party talks, so if Obama supports the Six-Party Talks, which I’m sure he will and I think his advisors will move toward pushing some sort of a mechanism of Northeast Asian security coming out of the Six-Party Talks, then Lee Myung-bak is going to have to change, going to have to get with the program.
P: Personally I’ve abandoned by now all hopes of Lee Myung-bak changing on his own initiative, so—
C: So he would have to be forced to change from outside.
P: From outside the country and from outside the Government within the country. And we could envision a different kind of alliance between the US government and South Korean citizens. Before, it used to be the alliance of the Bush Administration and the conservatives within South Korea blocking the reform movement in South Korea and reconciliation with the North. Now for a change we need an alliance and solidarity between Obama and Obama supporters in the United States and the democratic reform forces in South Korean civil society.
C: I think that will happen anyway.
P: Well, let’s stop on that hopeful note. Thank you very much.