[EDITORIALS]North Korea's Lame Excuses

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[EDITORIALS]North Korea's Lame Excuses

North Korea's attitude in the sixth round of the inter-Korean ministerial meetings makes us wonder if Pyeongyang ever wants to talk with the South. The North has persisted in an unreasonable argument: It insists that carrying out the visit by separated family members for reunion meetings and other inter-Korean talks agreed at the fifth round of ministerial talks, will happen only if South Korea calls off the alert against terrorism in the South. The North also indirectly criticized the efforts of President Kim Dae-jung to help the North enter the international community. Pyeongyang's unreasonable demand that Seoul first lift the alert against terrorism seemed to be no more than an excuse to delay carrying out the agreements of the previous inter-Korean talks.

First, the North's argument contradicts itself. The fifth round of the talks was held after Seoul had ordered the armed forces to be put on special alert against possible terrorism. At that time, the North agreed with the South to hold reunion meetings for separated families in October, and to resume other inter-Korean talks. Therefore, Pyeongyang's argument that the special alert is a measure against the North is a self-contradiction.

Even if the armed forces' alert against terrorism hinders inter-Korean relations, the South Korean government and delegations repeatedly explained that the move was not targeted at the North. Seoul made it clear that the special alert was only to reinforce stability inside the South. Such explanations should resolve any question that Pyeongyang can possibly raise. Despite that, the North persisted in its groundless argument, indicating that it has no intention to resume inter-Korean talks and exchange visits by the separated families for reunion meetings.

If the North believed that the South would continue to accept its unreasonable and lame excuses, that is a serious misjudgment. The current condition in the South will no longer provide full support to President Kim's plan to aid the North, as it once did in the past. The opposition party and public opinion have urged the government to provide food aid to the North only in return for holding family reunions. The North should see the rationale in this and join the inter-Korea dialogues in good faith.

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