- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 1999

The spectacle of first brother Roger Clinton singing on stage in Pyongyang was almost enough to make one long for the good old days of Billy Carter. Presidential siblings have a unique ability to embarrass their famous kin, and young Roger has proven himself second to none.
There the president’s brother was on Sunday in of all unlikely things a North Korean pop concert in the Stalinist dictatorship’s capital, crooning away with a backup group of three lovely South Korean singers in snazzy red gowns. As Mr. Clinton flailed away on stage in the cavernous symphony hall, the North Korean dignitaries looking on were every bit as stony faced as Hillary Clinton listening to Suha Arafat slandering the Israeli government. Perhaps they, too, had problems with the translation. Perhaps they would have preferred Duke Ellington instead. Who knows?
During the latter part of the concert, the audience did break out briefly into song, that favorite North Korean standby, “Our Wish is Unification.” In the annals of people-to-people contacts, this has to be one of the stranger ones.
Roger Clinton, who had been invited by the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a North Korean trade organization (a contradiction in terms, surely), left no doubt about his excitement on this occasion. He thanked the leadership of North Korean President Kim Jong-il, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, and last but not least the leader of the Free World, his brother and our president, for making it happen. Later the younger Mr. Clinton stated on television that he was proud to have made such bold statements in a place like Pyongyang. Well. On Saturday, Roger Clinton went to the birthplace of the late Great Leader Kim Il-sung, the man responsible for the Korean War, and looked around “with deep interest” at the life story of one of the world’s great tyrants. He was also shown on television bowing his head respectfully to a statue of Kim.
Now, the Clinton administration is pursuing a warming trend in relations with North Korea. This may or may not be wise; more often than not, the North Koreans do not reciprocate our pleasant overtures and boom belligerent rhetoric at the South or pursue missile and nuclear programs that threaten regional security.
But for some reason, the administration did not rush to take credit for Roger Clinton’s antics. The State Department washed its hands and White House spokesman Joe Lockhart played down the significance of the trip as “nothing more than a cultural exchange.” What’s the matter? Don’t they like his singing either?

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