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Saturday,October 24,2020
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Dalai Lama Dilemma and Double Standards

The so-called "People's Government?is often being accused of its principle or judgment which is more severe for one group of people or situation than another. On the one hand, many Korean universities and civic groups have long tried to invite the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, for lectures and other occasions. But he was refused an entry visa several times by the Korean Government. On the other hand, the same government and its supporters seem to be now desperately "pleading for the return visit" of North Korea's Defense Chairman Kim Jong Il. So far, it has been an outcry that has no response.

Most people agree that there are standards or moral rules which need to be upheld, although unanimously agreeing on them is rather more difficult. Two current hot potatoes, one for the Dalai Lama and the other for Chairman Kim Jong Il, reveal the double standards being applied in this society. Particularly when liberal and conservative camps are waging an ideological war, this phenomenon deteriorates markedly. It is because both camps do not want any compromise, reiterating their old, adamant ideological demands to each other.
It is quite ironical that the Kim Dae-jung government has denied the Dalai Lama's entry, for he and his key aids and followers have once called themselves the "champions" of human rights under the authoritarian regimes in the past. It is the same story with some liberal newspapers and civic groups. According to their claims, they are those who campaign against various absurd social practices and inequalities, systematically distorted, and who believe they are on moral crusades. However, they keep silence thoroughly, while more conservative parties are making an issue of the Dalai Lama visit. That is why the government and some liberal civic groups are under mounting criticism from the public for their double standards, treating one group differently from another.
The Dalai Lama, actually the 14th in the line of Dalai Lamas, was enthroned in 1940 but fled to exile in India with his followers in 1959, the year of the Tibetan people's unsuccessful revolt against communist Chinese forces that had occupied the country since 1950. The Dalai Lama set up a government-in-exile in India. Since then, he has been leading a non-violent campaign for his country's independence, traveling throughout the world. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet.
The Dalai Lama's visit would be a non-governmental, non-political and purely humanitarian event. Nevertheless, the government's decision not to issue a visa to him has been politically motivated. The government is repeatedly refusing to grant entry to him for fear of offending China. In other words, it is claimed that the government is approaching the Dalai Lama dilemma with "a long-term strategy" in an effort to minimize the possible damage of the bilateral ties with the Chinese government. It is quite a contrasting attitude of the same government when dealing with the "return visit" of Chairman Kim. It is true that the North Korean Leader's reciprocal visit will give momentum to advance the inter-Korean relations dramatically in the future. However, it is also true that the Dalai Lama's visit will give momentum to improve our nation's low profile image to the world. It is an irony of situation at a historical crossroads.

Post  leesj117@dongguk.edu

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