North Korea Unilaterally Postpones Summit

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North Korea Unilaterally Postpones Summit

There are various predictions and doubts regarding the reasoning behind North Korea’s decision to postpone President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Pyongyang, which was originally scheduled to be on June 12. It is highly unlikely that the delay of the summit is due to 'technical difficulties' only two days before the start, relayed in one urgent notification, considering customary international protocol. The government accepted North Korea's request by considering the fact that the one-day delay is bearable, since South Korea has already waited for 55 years. It can be interpreted as an inevitable action to hold this historical summit.

However, the government must provide at least a clear explanation about the background of North Korea's one-sided request to delay the summit, to avoid any unnecessary doubts. The government suspects that 'technical difficulties' are 'the problem solely related to holding the event.'

We are anxious to know if the South Korean government at least has accurate and firm information about the nature of the 'technical difficulties.' We’re not sure whether or not the government has fully considered North Korea’s request to delay before accepting their request.

It is possible to get the cooperation of the press through sufficient and appropriate explanations, if any unnecessary misunderstandings have risen due to speculative news stories that were not based on evidence or if problems regarding the security of the two leaders have been created by inquisitive reports on the summit agenda. Considering the announcement made by Chong Wa Dae spokesperson last weekend, warning the press about speculative news coverage, it is very possible that North Korea has already expressed their concerns and dissatisfactions with press coverage in South Korea. However, the public’s doubts are aggravated, since there is no clarification from the government.

The opposition party seems to have crossed the line by pointing out that the government's acceptance of North Korea's unilateral request to delay the summit is 'humiliating.' However, the government must be aware that many people have doubts regarding the fact that the South Korean government seems to be enticed by North Korea and people believe that there is the possibility of a behind-the-scenes agreement between South and North Korea.

The most important issue raised by the delayed summit is that there is a foundation of unpredictability laid down at the base of South-North issues. Moreover, there have been questions on trust, making it impossible to predict what and when the problems would occur. If North Korea postpones the summit only 30 hours prior to the actual event, which has been in the making for two months, it is impossible to believe any agreements reached at the summit will actually be carried out and kept in the future.

It is our understanding that North Korea has prepared this summit with serious efforts, based on the preliminary procedures. It is extremely regretful that the vulnerability of South-North issues is mentioned again and that trust in North Korea is damaged due to this incident. Therefore, North Korea must obtain the trust from the international community and increase predictability by carrying out the international tradition of keeping promises. Moreover, the South Korean government must maintain transparency in issues toward North Korea to avoid the nation's doubt.

by Shin Song-sik

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