Summit highlights S. Korea’s position as global leader
By Lee Tae-hoon
Sixty years ago, South Koreans fought a tragic, destructive fratricidal war against North Korea.
The Korean Peninsula, left with deep scars after Japanese colonization from 1910 through 1945, was the center of an ideological conflict.
Some 2.5 million people died, including 150,200 Chinese troops and 36,940 American soldiers, during the 1950-53 Korean War.
Today, as U.S. President Barack Obama described upon his arrival here Sunday, the contrast between South and North Korea could not be “clearer, and starker,” in terms of both freedom and prosperity.
Experts say the hosting of the nuclear summit clearly reflects South Korea’s elevated global status following the success of the Seoul G20 Summit in 2010, where it played a pivotal role in setting out a future direction for the global economy.
They point out the Nuclear Security Summit will give Seoul a greater say in the future on challenges that the international community faces, including safety issues in nuclear power generation and North Korea’s nuclear programs.
President Lee Myung-bak was not just a participant in the two-day summit, where representatives from 53 nations and four international organizations, including 44 heads of state, attended.
He was the host and chairman of the international gathering and the one responsible for setting agendas and the Seoul Communique, which identifies specific goals and outcomes.
What has been achieved during the two-day summit in Seoul was “remarkable” given that Lee managed to make all of the participating leaders agree to fresh commitments toward building a safer world without nuclear terrorism.
He also managed to convince world leaders that the North’s planned satellite launch is a grave threat that clearly violates a U.N. Security Council resolution through a series of bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed grave concerns over the launch, a sign that Pyongyang’s Cold War allies have begun to support Seoul’s efforts for a peaceful Korean Peninsula.
During the historic nuclear summit, President Lee has also reaffirmed that South Korea is capable of taking the initiative in tackling global issues and bridging differences on how to solve pending problems.
He succeeded in setting the target date of 2014 for amending global nuclear security architecture as well as in reaching a consensus over the minimal use of weapons-usable uranium by the end of 2013 in the unanimously adopted Seoul Communique.
Some point out that the summit, the largest-ever diplomatic event here, has laid the foundation for Seoul to become the hub of Asia in the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and international security cooperation.
“The government should consider creating a non-proliferation research center in order to strengthen the country’s diplomacy in nuclear security and non-proliferation,” said Jun Bong-geun, a professor at Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul.
The hosting of the 2012 Yeosu Expo from May through August this year is also expected to boost the country’s brand value in the international community.
South Korea drew international attention in July last year for its successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, after its two defeats for the 2010 and 2014 Games.