His policy of engagement with North Korea has been termed the Sunshine Policy. In 2000, he participated in the first North-South presidential summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Il, which later led to his winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Sunshine Policy was the South Korean foreign policy towards North Korea until Lee Myung-bak’s election to presidency in 2008. The doctrine emphasizes peaceful cooperation, seeking short-term reconciliation as a prelude to eventual Korean reunification. Since its articulation in 1998 by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, the policy has resulted in greater political contact between the two nations and one of historical moments in Korean peninsula, two Korean summit meetings in Pyongyang (June 2000) which broke ground with several high-profile business ventures, and brief meetings of separated family members.
The term sunshine policy originates in “The North Wind and the Sun”, one of Aesop’s fables. In the fable, the sun and the wind compete to remove a man’s coat. The wind blew strongly, but the man clutched his coat and kept it on. The sun shone warmly, and the man voluntarily took off his coat to enjoy the fine weather.
One criticism of the Sunshine Policy is that fostering relations between the North and the South ignores the fundamentally repressive and belligerent nature of North Korea, and in effect helps to prop up the Kim Jong-Il regime.
The North Korean leader did not keep his promise to reciprocate by visiting South Korea. North Korea has not reduced the heavy presence of troops in the demilitarized zone and has continued to work on developing nuclear weapons, which it tested in October 2006.
Nevertheless Kim Dao-Jung’s efforts are remarkable and inspiring examples of open hand politics.