- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2007

Appeal to U.S.

A group of South Korean legislators returned to Seoul over the weekend after rushing to Washington to urge congressional leaders and administration officials to help free the 21 remaining Korean hostages held in Afghanistan.

The eight-member delegation included four leaders in the National Assembly: Chun Young-se of the Democratic Labor Party; Chung Jin-seok of the People First Party; Jang Young-dal of the Uri Party; and Kim Hyung-oh of the Grand National Party.

They met with Korean reporters at the South Korean Embassy on Friday, after holding talks with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, California Democrat, and committee members Reps. Gary L. Ackerman, New York Democrat, and Ed Royce, California Republican. The Korean legislators Thursday met with Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and R. Nicholas Burns, under- secretary of state for political affairs.

The Koreans turned to Washington for help after expressing frustration in dealing with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who refused terrorist demands for the release of Taliban prisoners. Mr. Karzai fears that freeing prisoners will encourage more kidnappings.

The Koreans appealed to Washington to pressure Mr. Karzai, who met strong criticism from the United States and other countries when he released Taliban prisoners in exchange for an Italian journalist earlier this year.

In a joint statement posted on the embassy’s Web site (www.koreaembassyusa.org), they said, “We politely appeal to the U.S. government to change its stance on the hostage issue and help prevent additional killings of Korean hostages.”

Taking a joke

One definition of a diplomat is someone who thinks twice before saying nothing. Well, the British ambassador to Thailand had enough of that after 36 years in the foreign service. At a farewell appearance, David W. Fall unleashed a litany of jokes about Scotsmen, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans and Turks.

His performance at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok last month was ribald, wildly hilarious and shockingly blunt, according to Richard S. Ehrlich, our correspondent in Thailand.

“Stereotypes can be very misleading,” Mr. Fall said. “I’ve known German ambassadors with a sense of humor, well-organized Italians, Australians with no chips on their shoulders whatsoever, and Americans who are sensitive to local feelings.”

Mr. Fall, who retires this month, billed his appearance with the title: “Released into the community: His Excellency David Fall, on the verge of parole, reflects on 36 years as a British diplomat.”

He said one thing he regrets is how politically correct the diplomatic service has become.

“One of the many things we are not supposed to do these days is say anything which might be dubbed as racial stereotyping,” he explained.

Having said that, he told a joke about a penny-pinching Scottish soldier who bought a condom but frowned over the price. He returned repeatedly to the shop to complain that the condom developed holes from overuse. The shopkeeper suggested he purchase a new one, but the Scotsman said he cannot afford it.

One day the soldier stopped by the store and shocked the shopkeeper by asking for another condom.

“The regiment,” the Scotsman said, “has decided to buy a new one.”

As the laughter died down in the room, Mr. Fall explained, “I tell you that one purely as an illustration because we’re not allowed to tell that silly joke anymore. It’s also in extremely bad taste.”

Diplomatic traffic

In Washington this week:


c President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, who meets President Bush at Camp David.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.



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