(Yonhap Interview) Joint study of Ceausescu Moment 'useful' for S. Korea: Romanian FM

By Kim Deok-hyun

SEOUL, July 14 (Yonhap) -- Romania has agreed to launch a joint study with South Korea on its transition from communism to democracy, Romanian foreign minister said in Seoul Sunday, a move that may help Seoul figure out what it holds for Korean unification.

Romania ended its communist dictatorship by overthrowing the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu in a bloody 1989 revolution. Some draw a comparison between today's North Korea and Ceausescu's Romania.

Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean, in Seoul for an official visit, said he and his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se, have agreed to begin a government-level joint study on the so-called Ceausescu Moment, a moment the dictator's last public speech was interrupted by a defiant crowd. The incident triggered nationwide anti-Ceausescu protests and brough him down.

"It's very useful for you to understand better the past history and have a good and fresh look at the future," Corlatean said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency, apparently alluding to Korean unification.

The joint study, Corlatean said, will examine "documents of Romania in the communist period to understand how a political transition took place after the demise of the (Ceausescu) regime."

The joint study may allow South Korea to take a look at archival documents that show hitherto classified exchanges between Ceausescu's Romania and North Korea.

The Ceausescu regime collapsed following massive anti-government demonstrations. He was executed after being convicted by a special military tribunal on charges of mass murder in a hastily organized court session.

North Korea, an extremely reclusive and totalitarian regime, survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people in the 1990s. Analysts also agree that the Arab Spring has little relevance to North Korea, given the North's tight control of information.

Still, some outsiders are keeping a wary eye on the long-term viability of the North Korean system. The North's economy is in shambles and its hungry people are fleeing the country in droves.

However, few believe that a violent revolution similar to the one in Romania may take place in North Korea.

North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un, who took power after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in late 2011, has dashed hopes that he may take a different path by carrying out reforms. He instead challenged the world by launching long-range rockets and conducting a third nuclear test.

The international community is increasingly sounding a united voice to call on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Even its last remaining ideological ally, China, is backing punitive U.N. sanctions against the North.

Corlatean warned that North Korea would face more isolation if it turns a deaf ear to the calls by the international community.

"Because today, in a very globalized and inter-connected world, if someone chooses the model of isolation and does not promoting reforms and opening the society, it will be a bad solution," he said.

"When we have an inter-connected world, you have to be a part of this inter-connection with benefits for people and freedom," the minister said.

Corlatean urged North Korea "to have a political dialogue and not to do provocative acts or nuclear tests or ballistic missile tests."

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>