Your Oct. 30 editorial, "South Korea as Kim's ATM," says that money from South Korea is flowing to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il through Mount Kumgang tourism and the Kaesong Industrial Complex. In addition, your editorial said that South Korea has signaled displeasure with North Korea with very limited sanctions and that it must recognize its global responsibilities to prevent North Korean nuclear proliferation.
These statements are misleading. South Korea has announced that it will implement UN Resolution 1718, which orders countries to prevent North Korea from importing or exporting material for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or ballistic missiles. Despite recent rapprochement with North Korea, South Korea maintains more sanctions and restrictions against North Korea than any other country.
Mount Kumgang tourism and the Kaesong Industrial Complex were promoted by private Korean companies. The transactions have been carried out legitimately in accordance with South Korean law and international regulations. Therefore, the two projects should not be directly subject to the UN resolution because they are normal transactions that have nothing to do with WMD.
Although the two projects are examples of economic cooperation, they also bear strategic and security significance. In order to promote the two projects, the militaries of the two Koreas had to cooperate for the security of those crossing the military demarcation line. In addition, Kaesong and Mount Kumgang, which used to be important military fortresses, have now been transformed into peaceful areas. Therefore, the two projects are not threatening peace but easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Deputy minister for unification policy and public relations, Republic of Korea
Seoul, South Korea
The Nov. 22 article, "Behind talk of a draft: equity," was an excellent think piece. I particularly agree with the notion articulated by military sociologist Charles Moskos that we Americans are in a "patriotism lite" state of mind. "Support the troops" has been nothing more than a political rally for "support the president's wars," without any true substantive support for the uniformed men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While I do not agree with a draft, I would like to see congressional legislation that provides incentive for young people to invest time and labor in our local communities. For example, instead of working parttime at the mall for extra money, high school students could provide some type of social service in something they are interested in pursuing in return for tuition benefits for college-bound students, or for future wage and promotion benefits for vocational-bound students.
I think such an incentive would not only provide the means for young students to realize their future goals, but also would provide a sense of appreciation of their local communities, which is the foundation of "patriotism."
Regarding the Nov. 22 article about the draft: Yes, let us bring back the draft. I'm all for getting unemployed 18- to 30-year-old men and women off the streets and off the government dole. Draft them first. Second, empty the jails of the petty criminals by drafting shoplifters, drunken drivers, and vandals. Give them a purpose for their lives. Let them work hard and train hard and become upstanding American citizens.
Teresa T. Gaddy
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