[EDITORIALS]A Railway to Nowhere

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[EDITORIALS]A Railway to Nowhere

It is deeply disappointing that North Korea has not even started working on the restoration of the Kyongui railway that President Kim Dae-jung has said would become "the silk road of the new millenium," and which had inflated people's expectation. Only a few months ago, the government had expected the restoration to be completed by September or at the latest by the end of the year. However, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation is now saying that it would be difficult to complete the construction this year. The government should now explain whether the reason for the wrong forecast lies in its lack of information collection ability on the North, its attempts to exaggerate the accomplishments of the sunshine policy, or other factors.

Of course, the government had never said for sure that the North is restoring the Kyongui railway. However, the Ministry of Defense explained that North Korean soldiers were preparing for the construction at full gear at the beginning of October last year by placing military tents and landmine clearing equipment in the region planned for the railroad. It had said that the North was removing other military facilities from the area in preparation. And thus, the government had insinuated that the restoration construction would be completed by the fall.

Presently, the North is said to have removed most of the equipment and military forces it had deployed. Further, the North has still not signed the joint regulations for the demilitarized zone agreed upon between the two Koreas in February for landmine clearing.

It is of curiosity whether the Defense Ministry mistook the dispatch of military forces and equipment to the area as the commencement of construction or whether the government attempted to inflate hope in the people by taking for granted the September completion deadline, based on the agreement on the restoration forged with the North. It is equally baffling why the North sent military forces into the area for the restoration last October - before inter-Korean relations hit a deadlock with the Bush administration taking office - but did not actually start the construction. The incident over the Kyongui railway restoration makes us worry that the government's North Korea policy is inclined more toward the "heart" than the "head." Correctly informing the public on the progress of the restoration project would help build trust between the two Koreas.
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