Q: Despite my honourable agreement to release the two American foreign agents to that rather charismatic Bill Clinton, the leader of the free world is still daring to say that his relations with my country have not thawed.

Everyone got what they wanted — the spies got a teary reunion with their families, a plane trip with Bill and a hug with Al Gore (who originally offered to come to dinner but I wasn’t going to agree too that, too boring!). I have been more than reasonable, agreeing to the ladies’ release on the proviso that I got an intimate dinner for two with the world’s best conversationalist.

And yet the new president continues to wash his hands of the whole thing, and continues to bang on about my nation abandoning its nuclear program.

I gave them what they wanted, and I showed Bill a good time, so why must it still be frosty between us? I feel used.

K.J.I, Pyongyang

A: Your advances have not been met with personal acceptance, and this sounds both confusing and painful for you. It’s always disconcerting to feel that we have been used, particularly by those we were hoping would take us just the way we are. Instead, your international colleagues have taken what you had to offer and continued to find you wanting. Understandably, you are frustrated.

However, I get the impression that your sense of self is reasonably resilient K.I. I don’t hear any self questioning in your query, and you do not seem to be concerned that the desire for you to end your nuclear expansion is in any way justified.

And yet, there is something here you feel you deserve and have not been granted. I’m not sure that I’m clear about exactly what that is. Friendship? Social invitations? You sound very alone here. Puzzled that your concessions have not warmed things in your international relations, leaving you waiting for a morning-after phone call that has yet to come. So disappointing.

At the same time, there does not appear to be the mystery here that follows the unexpected ending of a promising new alliance. You have an ongoing disagreement with Bill and his new president, and you have offered something, which they have accepted. However, as you may know from other relationship experiences, for frozen feelings to thaw, warmth is required. Warming always involves the intermingling of previously separated substances. In this case, it sounds as if there has been a transaction, but not a true and warm exchange, where the needs and desires of each person are recognized and acknowledged. Without this, relationships tend to remain on the level of trade.

To begin the process of warming, you must first accept that your prospective partner, while he may accept dinner, may not want to progress to deeper intimacy without attraction, and the assurance that you are prepared to use appropriate protection.

Peter Fray

Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey.

This extraordinary year is almost at an end. But we know that time waits for no one, and we won’t either. This is the time to get on board with Crikey.

For a limited time only, choose what you pay for a year of Crikey.

Save up to 50% or dig deeper so we can dig deeper.

See you in 2021.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

SAVE 50%