Saturday, March 17, 2007

Continuing Japchae's post, the number of Korean lawmakers against the FTA has apparently been on the rise as they view it to be a minus for Korea, rather than a plus. Recently, a joint statement by 38 lawmakers from various parties demanded an immediate halt to the FTA talks, saying that the negotiations were being rushed. They also cited that it was unconstitutional to make decisions on the deal unilaterally against the will of the people. According to the article, the number of anti-FTA representatives is expected to rise to half, in addition to over half of the president's own party opposing the FTA as well. If this trend continues, it will be a miracle if the FTA actually ends up going through.

The FTA negotiations themselves have given Bae Jong-ha (Korea's chief agricultural negotiator) no inconsiderable amount of stress, causing him to send U.S. negotiators a poem written by Eulji Mundeok, a Koguryo-era marshal who sent this poem to his Sui adversaries. He defended his actions by saying, “I sent it out of real desperation. For more than nine months as I've been participating in agricultural talks with the U.S., I've been unable to sleep. Then, the idea of the poem hit me and I thought it represents my feelings.” I'm not whether or not this poem helped matters or made him a laughing stock among American FTA negotiators (I'm leaning toward the latter). You guys read the poem and decide for yourselves.

1 comment:

Erin Robinson said...

I think the poem is interesting in light of all of our discussions of the importance of Korean history in its nationalist vision of itself. The fact that Bae chose a Koguryo marshal (who eventually defeated the Sui, yes?) to send to the United States seem to imply more. Is the United States the new China for Korea? The great power they model themselves on and follow? Or is this more of a challenge, quoting an individual who would fight against the Chinese?

Even if I am overanalyzing this (which I wouldn't be surprised at) I still think it implies interesting things about the importance of history to modern Korea, and especially the importance of Koguryo military history to the government and the people.

As an American, though, I do agree it's a little odd to send poetry. But Americans aren't as big on poetry as the Koreans or the Chinese.