Sunday, September 18, 2005

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon has sent a written response to Rep. Hyde stating the Korean government’s position not to permit the statue of Gen. MacArthur to be removed or damaged. He also mentioned that high-ranking Cheong Wa Dae officials planned to meet with those calling for the statue to be removed to explain to them the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance and the sacrifices made by Gen. MacArthur. On a more feel-good note, he also said neither the Korean government nor the Korean people have forgotten the sacrifices made by Americans in protecting democracy in Korea, and that they remember Gen. MacArthur as a “great and brave hero of the Korean War.” He also noted that when, thanks to the North Korean nuclear issue, the importance of a strong Korean-U.S. alliance was been highlighted, he was sure that the regrettable actions of some would not influence the bilateral relationship.


Ban sends letter to U.S. Congress to pledge statue protection

NEW YORK, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon has sent a letter to Henry Hyde, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, to commit the Seoul government to preventing the demolition of a controversial statue of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Ban, visiting here to attend the special session marking the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, said he recently sent the letter on the order of President Roh Moo-hyun.

In the letter, Ban pledged his government to do its best in thwarting any attempt to demolish or damage the statue, saying such a bid runs counter to the "mature perception of history by South Koreans".

Ban reiterated that Roh had officially opposed destruction of the statue on multiple occasions, saying he was confident attempts by a minority of Koreans to harm the statue will not adversely affect the South Korea-U.S. relationship.

The South Korean people and government will never forget the sacrifices Americans made to defend democracy in South Korea, Ban said, adding most South Koreans remember MacArthur as a "great and courageous hero" of the Korean War.

The House Committee on International Relations sent a letter to Roh Thursday, saying the U.S. Congress was "disturbed" by reports of protests around the statue of MacArthur whom protesters describe as a "war criminal." The letter, signed by five members of the committee, including Hyde, urged Roh to take "all necessary action" to prevent defilement or destruction of the statue.

"If this is not the case, however, and the violent attempts to topple the statue continue, we would respectfully suggest that, rather than allowing the General's statue to be defaced or torn down, the people of (Incheon) and all of South Korea turn over the statue of General MacArthur to the American people," said the letter. Roh has denounced the liberal activists who are calling for the demolition of the statue, which commemorates the generals contribution to the defense of South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The president dismissed any effort to dismantle the statue as an "unwise act" unhelpful to South Korea's relationship with the U.S. Roh said any demolition of the statue would not only "greatly undermine the pride of American people" but also seriously aggravate U.S. sentiment against South Korea and U.S. citizens' perception of Korea.

"I do not know the reason why the statue should be demolished," he said. "I like that they would recognize history as it is and I do not understand why they are trying to abolish all of the past now." Once revered as a hero of the Korean War in South Korea, MacArthur recently became a controversial figure, with some civic organizations holding demonstrations near the statue to demand its relocation. Critics say the statue is incompatible with ongoing inter-Korean efforts to promote reconciliation. Korean War veterans groups have also staged rallies to counter the campaign to remove the statue.

MacArthur directed the famous landing at Incheon on September 15, 1950, in the third month of the war that turned the tide of battle and helped U.N. forces restore most of South Korea. MacArthur later sent U.N. forces into North Korea that advanced to China's border before being forced to retreat in the face of overwhelming intervention by Chinese forces.

The 5-meter-tall bronze statue, established at Freedom Park in Incheon in 1957, depicts the U.S. general looking over the port and holding a pair of binoculars. The MacArthur issue emerged as South Korea began to question long-standing historical assumptions with the launch of the Roh administration in early 2003.

Elected on various liberal election campaign pledges, one of which included a call for a more equal footing in the country's relationship with the U.S., which stations 32,500 U.S. troops in the South Korea, Roh has pursued greater independence from Washington than his predecessors on the North Korean nuclear issue and other security matters.

I agree with the Marmot that President Roh should of been the one to have sent the response himself clearly stating the policy of the Republic of Korea. Instead President Roh has decided to have Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon to respond instead. President Roh can't even write a letter himself stating his own government's policy much less thank 32,000 American soldiers serving in his country.

See also my article about the 2002 attack any you see why I really doubt Presidents Roh words. Mr President, words are nice, I value action and right now all is see is a whole bag of noting.

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