Tuesday, October 02, 2007
So far and yet so close
An hour after leaving his office, the South Korean president arrives at the heavily-fortified border between the two Koreas. After stepping over brightly painted demarcation line, he gets into a car again and drives two-and-a-half hours to the North Korean capital.
The distance, or actually the lack of, never fails to amaze me every time I or anyone gets into a car to head to North Korea.
While stepping over the demarcation line, the South Korean president talked about bringing down the wall between the two Koreas. There may not be anything like the Berlin Wall between the two Koreas, but this trip proves once again just how high the "invisible wall" is.
Just a couple of symbolic examples:
No otherhead of state would make the type of trip the South Korean president is making into the North. His people have no idea what will be the official agenda for talks, no idea what the exact schedule for meetings will be. For that matter, no concrete idea who he will be meeting. Thus, the venue for the welcome ceremony was fixed only minutes before the president's motorcade arrived. The president also had no confirmation that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il would be there to greet him until just before his motorcade stopped and there he was!
Ant talk about your digital divide! The North Korean government is "graciously" allowing the South delegation of 300 to bring with them, 30 cell phones and use 12 Internet lines. South Korea is one of the world's most wired countries, and more than 90 percent of the population uses a cell phone! The South’s delegation itself includes the head of the world's leaders in this area, LG, and Samsung Electronics!
Can any two countries be so far apart, and yet, so, so close!
-- From Seoul bureau chief and correspondent Sohn Jie-Ae
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