Noting how historically Korea has never been an aggressor, Song began his speech at the Institute of Politics by likening South Korea—formally known as the Republic of Korea (ROK)—to a “ball-bearing” in the “complex and important machine” that is the Northeast Asian security mechanism.
Song cited a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, which found that although Chinese and Japanese hold unfavorable views of each other, they generally hold favorable views of Koreans.
“This allows us a position as a stabilizer and facilitator to the region without raising undue concern,” he said.
He went on to laud a recent free trade agreement between the U.S. and ROK and urged quick approvals from their respective legislatures. He said both countries stand to benefit from billions of dollars in increased export revenues when the agreement goes into effect.
Finally, he expressed a cautious confidence in both the current denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula and the multilateral Northeast-Asia peace and security negotiations.
The ROK’s neighbor, North Korea, has conducted a nuclear test detonation. But the Associated Press reported last night that a team of U.S. experts has begun disabling North Korea’s nuclear weapons-making facilities, marking the first time the isolationist dictatorship has ever moved to scale back its development of atomic bombs.
“We should be wary of overly wishful thinking,” Song said. “These are untrodden territories of disabling a country’s nuclear weapons program purely by negotiations.”
“His speech was almost predictable, but I liked how he answered questions,” said Nara Lee ’11. “He positioned himself very well, and spoke with first-hand experience that intrigued me a lot more than just a speculator or an expert would,” she said.
Song said after the speech that he “appreciated how students expressed their interest not just as Koreans or Americans but as scholars.”
His visit to Harvard, where he served as a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs during the 1994-1995 academic year, marks the beginning of a North American tour that is to culminate in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tomorrow, the English-language Korea Times reported.
The two leaders are to discuss the denuclearization of North Korea and the possibility of formally ending the Koren War.
CORRECTION: The photo caption accompanying the Nov. 6 news article "Korean Minister Pushes Peace" incorrectly stated that Song Min-Soon was North Korea's minister of foreign affairs and trade. In fact, he represents South Korea. In addition, the caption incorrectly suggested that he spoke of nuclear programs in South Korea, when in fact he was discussing North Korea's. The caption has been modified online from its original version.