Friday, June 25, 2004

Six Party Talks

Taking a moment away from preparing my application to Wonderland. Its being reported that the latest round of six party talks has seen some proposals from various sides and new signs of flexibility. Also, the DPRK and US sat down for bilateral discussion as well that lasted over two hours but one report says that DPRK threatened to test one of their nukes. On the US side, they have suggested Libya-style procedures that would give DPRK three months to get on board before inspections began to ensure complete, irreversible, and verifiable dismantlement (CIVD). It has been noted that three months is also around election time which may imply that this is an attempt to put off the need for any real progress until after the voting.

These talks have been completely overshadowed due to the Iraqi affair, of which I won't talk about except to ask how it is that the media was INSIDE their house to take such disturbing photos of their personal grief!? In addition to that, the low expectations and correspondingly lacklustre results have ensured little interest in this round of non-event talks.

Shifting the Capital

Roh's big plans to move the capital regardless of what anyone else wants is moving ahead and he has decided to forego a referundum. Afterall, who needs public approval for policy in a democracy anyway? The article brings up a few good points, including noting the economy can ill afford the cost of such a massive move. The current surplus of the budget is largely comprised of the pension fund savings which has been building up to support the new welfare programs initiated after the financial crisis. Add to this the fact that the budget does not include "funds" which are not recorded in the consolidated budget figures.

This ties in with the second matter, namely that shifting the capital will not improve balanced regional growth in Korea. Roh argues that the idea is to decentralise power and reduce the concentration in Seoul. Regional balanced growth has been the mantra for pursuing local government development since 1995. Research and seminars on how best to achieve this has been ongoing for several years to find out how to develop policies that will enable greater intra-regional equality. But this move won't serve to alleviate regionalism or reduce disparity. It makes less sense given the size of the country as well. Its a small nation, there is little reason to have two major centres of power. The money that would go towards the move would be far better spent on implementing sound policies that will address the structural and institutional inhibitants to revigorating regional areas and enabling them to find ways to boose their local economies and create opportunties for local populations to develop and rejuvenate their region.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui