Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ambassador Stephens, Crossing Borders

On balance, it would be hard to find a less controversial space on the entire internet than the blog of an ambassador (unless it is former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, perhaps), and this rule holds absolutely true for that of Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, the outgoing U.S. ambassador here in Seoul; so much so that I didn't know the blog even existed until the Hankyoreh decided to inform me of it. Bearing in mind I am a journalist, that is quite a high degree of non-controversy.

Anyhow, Hankyoreh plucked the Stephens blog from media obscurity on Saturday 25th in order to proclaim, "스티븐스 대사 'DJ 화해통일 비전 실현해야'" ("Ambassador Stephens, 'We must realize DJ's reconciliatory unification'"), the evidence for which came from this blog post, dated June 20th, about a cycling trip Ambassador Stephens recently took to the home province of Kim Dae Jung, Jeollanamdo.

There, in Gungang Park on the island of Jindo, Stephens told an assembled crowd in Korean (translation mine), "We remember Kim Dae Jung's vision of unification through reconciliation," and continued, "Let's strengthen our resolve to realize President Kim's vision!"

This, the Hankyoreh believes, is being interpreted by some (who these someones are, note, is not made clear) as containing an "indirect criticism of President Lee Myung Bak's hardline policy."

Erm, not really. But good try.

By the by, were you to read the same blog post in English, you'd find that the part about DJ is slightly different;

We remember President Kim’s vision of eventual reunification through reconciliation. We look forward to the day when the whole Peninsula is free and all Korean people experience a reconciliation befitting the sacrifice we honor.

Make of that what you will.

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