[EDITORIALS]A ray of real sunshineWe also applaud the news that the two Koreas have agreed to a visit to Pyeongyang in April by Lim Dong-Won, President Kim Dae-jung's special adviser on security and inter-Korean ties. We expect North-South relations to improve; secret meetings over the past two months have not only worked out plans for another ministerial meeting and resumption of bilateral projects like family visits, but also agreement on the envoy's visit. We have some thoughts on issues that Seoul should emphasize during Mr. Lim's planned visit.
For starters, the envoy should carry a clear message from Seoul and Washington to Kim Jong-il, the North's leader, about Pyeongyang's suspected development of weapons of mass destruction, a development that has destabilized the peninsula since U.S. President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" comment.
The two sides should implement programs that were agreed to a long time ago, including holding regular bilateral talks and setting up hot lines in order to establish a minimum level of trust between the two sides. In addition, Seoul should try to convince Pyeongyang that the South and the international community will provide the North with more support only when the North mends fences with the United States by resuming a serious dialogue. As Mr. Lim has pointed out, a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula could occur in 2003 if the North sticks to its current posture toward the United States.
Next, Seoul should focus its efforts toward regular meetings between the two sides. It appears that Seoul is pushing for visits by senior officials from Seoul and Pyeongyang to the North's cultural festival in April and the World Cup soccer games in May and June.
But using prearranged surprise events for political purposes will not help improve inter-Korean ties. We know that many North-South agreements have failed because politics were more important than substance. Our government must take this opportunity to lay a foundation for sustained dialogue and cooperation between the two Koreas. In that way, the Kim administration can keep its "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North alive.