South Korea looks to the north for new friends

South Korean Foreign Minister Lee Bum Suk said last week that normalization of relations with China and the Soviet Union is his government's major diplomatic goal in the 1980s.

Explaining South Korea's foreign policy objectives to this reporter, Mr. Lee emphasized what he calls a ''northward policy,'' designed to establish friendly relations with the two giant communist neighbors to the north.

Normal ties among Seoul, Moscow, and Peking, he says, will eventually induce North Korea to accept South Korea's repeated calls for a dialogue between the two Koreas, a dialogue aimed at peaceful reunification of the peninsula arbitrarily divided at the end of World War II.

For over a decade South Korea has been trying to establish a direct dialogue with the north on a range of issues which it is hoped would lead to eventual reunification. North Korea has consistently refused to recognize the south as an equal in such discussions.

Foreign Minister Lee hopes the two big communist powers will heed this latest proposal by South Korea, a nation with 40 million people and an annual trade volume of $50 billion.

Ironically, his dramatic call comes at a time when the entire nation has been glued to its television screens. The state-run KBS network began a telethon two weeks ago to help reunite relatives separated after the 1945 division of the country or during the 1950-1953 Korean war.

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