So why did the North Korean government refuse to attend the inauguration in February of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the conservative who swept into the Blue House in a landslide election, ending a decade of opposition control? At the time, a good many international observers tut-tutted that the fault was President Lee's. He was too closely allied with America, they said, and his stubborn insistence on square dealings with the North had driven the regime away.
Now it turns out the North Korean regime skipped the celebrations because it was insulted it didnt receive a" special" invitation.
The Associated Press reports:
The North told the South that its representative would not come to Seoul if South Korea "offered the same invitation that would go to other foreign countries," Yonhap news agency reported, citing Yim Tae-hee, the chief policy-maker of the ruling Grand National Party.
And what makes an invitation "special" in the eyes of the North? It's not embossed letters or a spritz of perfume:
Early this year, South Korean media reported that Seoul told North Korea its representatives would be welcome at the ceremony but would be treated like any other country and would not get any economic favors from the South for attending the event.
So, basically, the new South Korean administration correctly surmised that the North's Dear Leader had no real interest in fostering good relations, and, accordingly, Seoul refused to bribe the North for what would only be hollow publicity.
It's good to see that President Lee has a realistic view of the North. That certainly wasn't the case with his predecessors.
After the leaders of the North and South met in Pyongyang in June 2000—the first such inter-Korean meeting—commentators swooned that then President Kim Dae Jung's "sunshine policy" of turning a blind eye to the North's provocations was finally paying off. For this feat, the South Korean president was awarded that year's Nobel Peace Prize.
In fact, the only payoff was from Kim's administration: An independent counsel reported three years later that the South Korean government funneled at least $100 million to the North ahead of the summit. And how critical was the payment to ensuring the meeting took place? The historic summit was delayed by one day when the bribe failed to appear on time.