[EDITORIALS] North's Insolence Hurts Only Itself
It is disappointing that the North Korean delegation scheduled to come to Seoul Tuesday for the fifth inter-Korean ministerial talks unilaterally postponed the talks on the very morning that they were to arrive. We do not know if any urgent internal problems intervened. But only Monday the North communicated the make-up of its delegation and the mode of their transportation. The notification of indefinite adjournment without stating any reasons will not only put the Kim Dae-jung government in a difficult spot, but also strengthen Washington's suspicion of the North.
Many analyses have been put forth to explain the North's one-sided adjournment. The North must have been displeased with Washington for expressing its negative perception of National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il in the Kim-Bush summit talks. The North also could have needed time to adjust its strategies and tactics to respond to a newly created mood between Seoul and Washington. In addition, something unexpected might have happened to one of the delegates. There is also a possibility that Chairman Kim could have held a surprise meeting with Culture and Tourism Minister Kim Han-gill, who is visiting the North, made some proposal and then decided to watch Seoul's response before holding the ministerial talks.
Whatever the reason, it defies belief that the North gave no explanation. This omission should be rectified. North and South should seek to foster predictability and etiquette as they attempt to eliminate profound and long-lasting misunderstanding and hostility. As the North hopes to join the international community, it should bear this in mind, and Seoul should help make the North understand this point. If the North's insolent behavior continues, it will undermine President Kim's policy of helping the North in goodwill. The North should clearly understand that it would end up harming only itself.
We urge the North to immediately begin to discuss the rescheduling of the talks and make a bold decision to remove the reasons for Washington and Seoul to have different North Korea policies based on rival views of the nature of Pyongyang. If President Kim is to persuade Washington to his line of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation, the North should act according to international standards.