Milestone Agreement Reached For South-North Summit in JunePresident Kim Dae-jung's planned visit to Pyongyang in June to meet with Kim Jung-il, the National Defense Committee Chairman, is a historical event. It is the first summit between South and North Korean leaders. The agreement to hold the summit is an important result of Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine Policy."
The July 4 South-North Joint Communique was the historical event that opened a channel of communication between South and North Korea. Furthermore, the summit between South and North Korean leaders in June will become the foundation for establishing a substantial peace structure on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea seems to understand that it is impossible to interact with the international community without a normalization of ties with South Korea. North Korea also recognized that the Kim Dae-jung administration is the only partner that can provide economic support in times of great need. Moreover, the U.S. and China recommended direct talks between officials from the South and North to help relieve the tension in Northeast Asia. U.S. and China advised North Korea not to turn its back on the South, and this advice has proven to be effective.
We truly hope that the summit will proceed without any complications. We believe that the cold war between South and North Korea must end, and a state of peace will be established as a result of this summit.
Humanitarian issues must be discussed at the summit, especially the 'divided-families problem.' It can be expected that North Korea will oppose the issue of the separated families. However, there will be no agreement on any of the issues if this discussion is avoided. A sincere effort by both sides is required to achieve any kind of meaningful resolution.
The reconciliation between South and North Korea will eventually begin through economic cooperation. President Kim Dae-jung expressed his intention to support the construction of roads, harbors and agricultural infrastructure projects in North Korea in his Berlin Statement. The South Korean government must come up with an accurate and feasible plan for economic cooperation with the North. Those interested in investing in North Korea must be assured as to the safety and stability of the North's financial environment.
The upcoming summit must not end as a 'one-shot deal.' If there are no further summits, the South-North summit in June will be perceived as a fluke and not a milestone. We anticipate a successful summit in Pyongyang to be followed by future summits in both capitols.
by Choi Joon-ho