One week after North Korea admitted to having a nuclear arms program, South Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Sun Joun-Yung visited Yale Wednesday to speak on the current tensions between North Korea, South Korea and the United States.
At a Saybrook Master’s Tea , Sun spoke to a crowd of more than 70 students and professors about the issues. Because of the unexpectedly high turnout, nearly a third of the audience had to listen to the talk from the hallway. The Yale International Relations Association co-sponsored the tea as part of United Nations Week.
In spite of the past week’s developments on the Korean peninsula, Sun said he does not believe there will be any major conflicts between the two Koreas in the near future.
“We will not have another war on the Korean Peninsula,” Sun said. “North Korea is an isolated economic and political power that has lost all its allies. Economically, they have nothing. There will not be war.”
Furthermore, Sun said the United Nations should not play a major role in resolving this conflict.
“The United Nations has nothing do to with the crisis in the Korean peninsula,” Sun said. “Placing this issue with the U.N. is not the best idea for a resolution. The United Nations is not the right forum for settling the nuclear weapons issue. This should be resolved by the countries with the keenest interests of those involved.”
Sun also discussed South Korea’s increasing role in world politics. South Korea is currently the 10th-largest contributor of funds to the United Nations and sends soldiers overseas for peacekeeping tasks. South Korea has developed from one of the world’s poorest countries to the 12th or 13th-largest economy in the world, Sun said.
Sun also spoke about general sentiments of the Korean population towards the United States.
“Korean people remain grateful for what the United States had done for us,” Sun said.
But when one student asked about Koreans’ anti-American sentiments, Sun slightly modified his original statement.
“I would not say there is not any anti-American sentiment in Korea,” Sun said. “As a whole, this is negligible, and Korea enjoys a very good relationship with the United States.”
Prior to speaking about the current situation in the Korean peninsula, Sun provided a brief overview of Korean history, touching on the Korean War and the different paths the two nations have taken since then. He also discussed South Korean President Kim Dae Jung’s “Sunshine Policy,” which promotes good will towards the North.
Yoon-Seok Lee ’05 said he thought this part of the talk was somewhat unnecessary.
“[Sun] could have done without the lengthy introduction on Korean history,” Lee said. “Most of the students who came had already had background information.”
Yale International Relations Association President Alyssa Greenwald ’03 said the organization invited Sun to Yale because of South Korea’s unique position in international affairs.
“We tend to invite [permanent members of the United Nation’s Security Council], and we wanted a different perspective,” Greenwald said. “This topic would be of interest to most Yale students, especially with the events of last week.”