Farewell Korea, I Loved You So (Act I)

Andrei Marks · August 15, 2007

Today I grabbed a copy of the Global Journal (世界报), which turns out to be one of the more fringe papers. I could tell immediately, because plastered on the front page was a gigantic photo of a fighter plane, and both “Taiwan” and “War Strategy” are mentioned in the same headline. Although, I hesitate to call it a fringe paper–with every other news story about some conflict somewhere, or some impending conflict, or some expose on the machinery that would be used in said conflicts, because there are about five of these types of publications to every “normal” newspaper at any newstand.

But naturally you’ll get a lot more interesting opinions.

Today’s article is about the current crisis with the South Korean hostages in Afghanistan, which I haven’t really paid much attention to, but which turns out to be a fascinating, if distressing, situation. This is from the 07-08-15 print, on page 7 under the Specialist News Commentaries section. The author is Yuan Li, who prepared it for this paper.


The Taliban Hostage Strategy is Dividing the American-South Korean Alliance

Since July 19th, of the 23 South Koreans who were taken hostage by armed elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, two of the hostages have already been executed and several more have become severely ill. Because the Afghani government is decidedly unwilling to yield to the Taliban’s demands to exchange prisoners, it looks like the prospect of survival for the remaining 21 hostages is grim. Not long ago, Afghani President Karzai met with President Bush at Camp David in the United States, where the two reaffirmed their position to refuse to negotiate with the terrorists’ demands for a prisoner exchange. America, which has long been a protector and a big brother to South Korea, has chosen this critical moment to maintain its own position, and South Korean citizens, excessively disappointed, have let out a cry of indignation, and their blazing fury could soon burn a bridge between the United States and South Korea.

In the past the South Korean government has been a strong supporter of America’s operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But with the development of this hostage situation, not only has there been a challenge to whether or not Korea should support America’s policies in the Middle East, but there has also been a challenge to the the American-Korean allied relationship itself. How could it be possible for America to let Korea believe that it is doing everything she possibly can to rescuse the hostages and at the same time express its strong support of the resident authorities in Afghanistan? America has no way to respond to this question, and with this hostage situation at a deadlock, it is certain that it will injure the American-South Korean relationship.

- America’s Stubborn Opinion Will Make Korea Fight a Lone Battle

According to a US report by the Washington Observer, the head of the US Johns Hopkins University School of Internation Relations, Gu Jie, has said that, “Washington has already stated many times that they are not going to respond to the Taliban’s demands. I am guessing that however earnestly the South Koreans implore the United States government, it will not change its policy and give the Taliban any loopholes.” “America’s standpoint is to maintain its policy of “zero negotiation with terrorists”, and to prevent further hostage taking situations from occurring,” Gu Jie commented,”and now it doesn’t look like Washington is taking any action to change that standpoint.” Furthermore, the Washington Observer article mentions that the reason the Bush administration is unwilling to break with established policy is clear: doing so would set a disastrous precedent, and would open wide the door for more kidnappings and extortion.

After Bush’s and Karzai’s summit at Camp David, America’s National Safety Council spokesperson Geerdeng-yuehandeluo (Gordon…Yuehandeluo?) expressed the following viewpoint for his organization: there cannot be an exchange (with the kidnappers).

(to be cont.)


Translator’s notes:
- One thing I have been doing in the previous articles is sticking as well as I can to the Chinese mode of expression and their idioms. So I realize the articles’ English might sound a little off. Since I’ve never formally studied professional translation, I don’t know if it’s expected to really alter the language in order to get the point across. Well, I know that it’s done all the time actually, in books I’ve been reading with English and Chinese, but I feel like some translators stick more to the quirks of the source language than others. So I’m just not sure where I stand with that. In this article I’m going to go for stream-lining the English, replacing idiomatic expressions where I have to. I do like how this writer expresses himself though.
- The Washington Observer (http://www.washingtonobserver.org/en/) is a US based Chinese Language newspaper that focuses on foreign affairs.
- I’m assuming the article is referring to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Internation Studies. However the Dean is named Jessica Einhorn, so either Gu Jie is her Chinese name or Gu Jie refers to some other person. (She graduated from Barnard!)
- I am hard pressed to imagine how the US expects to stop kidnappings from happening unless it bars foreigners from entering anywhere in the world where the Taliban might operate. Which is slightly unrealistic.
- Any guesses on what name Yuehandeluo might be?
- A long article, so I’ll finish tomorrow. One interesting mention, in Korea they are seriously inflamed about this hostage situation. I saw a picture of a protest in Seoul where they burned a stack of Korans! Imagine if that made headlines in the world media!

Finally, an AP article on China in the upcoming 2008 election:

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