South Korea 2001
South Korea. The approach to North Korea encountered obstacles. During President Kim Dae Jung’s visit to the United States in March, US President George W. Bush made it clear that the US attitude to North Korea under his leadership would be tougher than during the Clinton administration. To mark the so-called sunshine policy towards North Korea, Kim appointed a well-known advocate for this policy to reunification minister Lim Dong Won. Nevertheless, North Korea broke down all contact with South Korea at ministerial level as a result of the US position. To show its support for the reunification process, in May the EU sent a delegation, led by then EU President Prime Minister Göran Persson, to Pyongyang and Seoul.
In early September, North Korea proposed to resume talks, which South Korea accepted. At the same time, however, the Seoul Parliament voted for a declaration of confidence in the reunification minister. Formally, Lim was blamed for a South Korean delegation’s failure to visit Pyongyang, but widespread dissatisfaction with the expensive and unsuccessful dialogue with the North was considered to be the real reason. Kim was forced to dismiss Lim and as a result the entire government resigned on September 4. Kim did a government transformation with unexpectedly small changes. China’s ambassador and former Foreign Minister Hong Soon Yung became the new reunification minister. Lim was given an important advisory role near Kim.
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In mid-November, dialogue with North Korea broke down again and recently entered into agreements on, among other things, more family reunions were jeopardized. The countries could not agree on the view of the global fight against terrorism. As a close ally of the United States, South Korea remained in high alert following the September 11 attacks against the United States, which North Korea considered targeted them.
In November, President Kim Dae Jung resigned as leader of the ruling party MDP in an attempt to stave off an internal political crisis following the party’s defeat in several filling elections in October.
South Korea’s economy was affected by the international downturn. In November, forecasts suggested that GDP growth for 2001 would halt at 2-3%. However, through various package of measures, the government managed to avoid economic recession, even though important exports fell. In August, however, the last repayment could be paid off on the $ 19.5 billion IMF loan that South Korea was forced to take during the 1998-99 Asian crisis. At the end of the year, South Korea lifted the heightened military readiness, which was supposed to be able to facilitate attempts to breathe life into the reconciliation process with North Korea.
According to Countryaah, the population of South Korea in 2001 was 48,700,962, ranking number 25 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.550% yearly, and the population density was 500.8852 people per km2.