[EDITORIALS]Disunity in the Festival for Unification

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[EDITORIALS]Disunity in the Festival for Unification

Repeated acts of disobedience by some of the members of the South Korean delegation who participated at the Grand Festival for National Reunification are surely shocking. After visiting events at the Monument to the Three Charters of National Reunification, against preconditions set by the South Korean government in endorsing their trip to the North, some members toured Kim Il-sung's birthplace, Mangyongdae, and wrote in the visitors' book, "Let us inherit the spirit of Mangyongdae and reach reunification." The fiasco has spread to the political arena, with prosecutors hinting that the members sided with the enemy and the opposition Grand National Party demanding that the minister of unification, Lim Dong-won, be held responsible.

Statements written in the visitors' book, such as "the working class should lead the independent reunification of the country" or "the people should unite for reunification," clearly contradict the basic reunification vision that the South Korean government holds and the people harbor.

Presumably, "the spirit of Mangyongdae" refers to ideas promulgated by Kim Il-sung. Although we cannot contend that the statement endorses reunification according to the North Korean vision of a federation, the statement arouses concern. The person who wrote it has studied North Korean society for a long time and has written much on inter-Korean relations; the statement cannot be construed as meaningless scribbling by a civilian.

If reference to the "working class" reflects the intention to achieve reunification through class struggle, it contradicts the basic vision of reunification held by the South Korean government. "National unity" or "independent reunification" are specialized phrases the North uses politically.

The disturbing actions of a few deserve fierce criticism for violating the objective of the South Korean delegation, which went to Pyongyang to expand the horizon of civilian movements for reunification. Even within the delegation, there was concern that "we should not take actions that squelch budding reunification movements." The South Korean government should disclose the defectors' actions and motivations and take legal steps. And it should accept its responsibility.

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