[EDITORIALS]1 step forward, 2 backThe North Korean Senior Cabinet Councilor Kim Ryong-song, the chief delegate in the inter-Korean ministerial talks, expressed optimism by saying, "You can expect this tree to bear full fruit." However, during the two days of meetings, not only did the North persist in their previous position regarding the Yellow Sea encounter, but also showed no response to the South's request to schedule inter-Korean meetings for the ministers of national defense or to discuss the particulars for the connection of the Gyeongui railroad. Such obstinate moves by the North to take only what looks good fail to make sense.
If the worries of the Southern representatives hold true, the North is making mistakes. That is, even if the South forgoes pursuing the solution of the two issues at hand, and only longs for quick-fix results that give the North what they want, the people will respond critically. The South is going through a process of a change of regimes, not to mention the fact that the opposition is larger in size than the party in power; the current state of affairs shows that it will be difficult to push forward the policy to support North Korea without the approval of the people and the opposition parties who object to the aid. It will be difficult for Pyeongyang to avoid condemnation from the South if it continues to expect to get from the South without giving anything in return. This will be especially apparent if it tries to absorb benefit, such as rice aid through the Inter-Korea Economic Cooperation Committee and more foreign exchange earnings through talks on Mount Geumgang tours. The situation for South Korea is not as simple as the North might think.
Obviously, the conference between the ministers of national defense is indispensable, especially because even if we believe that the North's insistence on an "accidental occurrence" at sea was indeed true, forming a minimum foundation of trust between the military authorities to prevent such mishaps from becoming battles is crucial, to say the least. Furthermore, the North's resistance to provide guarantees for the execution of the Gyeongui rail connection only incites distrust. Therefore, the North must agree to accept our fair and earnest propositions, if they intend to "start anew," as they have said they would, rather than wasting time mulling over right and wrong actions of the past.