Presidential Pragmatism

Lee Jae-Won / Reuters

New wave: President Lee says he'll "prepare the foundation" for reunification with the North, but it will be tough to speed up the process

It ain't bragging if it's true, as they say in Texas, which is why a moment of unmistakable pride in the speech that Lee Myung Bak, the new President of South Korea, gave at his inauguration on Feb. 25 was forgivable. "In the shortest period of time," Lee said, "this nation achieved both industrialization and democratization." Visiting bustling Seoul a few weeks ago to meet Lee — who was a reformist mayor of the city before he won the presidency — I was struck, as I always am in Korea, by the extraordinary story of a nation that, impoverished...

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