When Kim Dae Jung and Kim Jong Il held hands, beamed, and downed champagne last week over the future of Korea, the world hoped the last theatre of the Cold War might be disappearing forever. Kim Jong Il, long portrayed as a paranoid, hard-drinking blend of Saddam Hussein and Hugh Hefner, showed himself capable of warmth and humour; and South Koreans, riveted to their TV screens, wept and clapped.
Washington, though, hotly divided over North Korea’s real motives, refuses to shelve plans for its missile defense shield. Officials can’t seem to agree whether the Kims’ summit signalled a real change of heart in North Korea, or whether it’s all a subtle ploy of Kim Jong Il’s to extract aid from former enemies. His country, after all, is staggering through catastrophic famine and a debilitating economic crisis, yet Washington claims he’s still furiously developing long-range missiles.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
David Kang, Professor of Government at Dartmouth
Bonnie Oh, Professor of Korean Studies at Georgetown University
Steve Linton, former Professor in Korean history at Columbia and head of an aid organization in Seoul
and Mike Breen, long-time Korea expert and author of The Koreans.