[EDITORIALS]North's Reasoning Baffles

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[EDITORIALS]North's Reasoning Baffles

North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee severely denounced the United States on Wednesday for persistently interrupting the progress of the Mount Kumgang tourism project. The denunciation may be an indication that South Korea's hopes and resolve to resuscitate the stalled project could evaporate overnight. We intend to pay close attention to the timing and content of the committee's denunciation as well as to the reaction of the South Korean government, Hyundai Asan Corp. and the Korea National Tourism Organization that are overseeing the project.

The date when the statement of denunciation was released was the deadline for completing the designation of Mount Kumgang as a special tourist zone, in accordance with an agreement between the North and the Hyundai Asan, made June 8. North Korea already breached an agreement to hold talks with South Korea in return for receiving $22 million in overdue tourism fees. Now it has backed off from the agreement to designate Mount Kumgang a tourist zone. South Korean authorities seem to believe that North Korea is trying to blame its breach of agreement on the United States. Regardless of the reason, it remains to be seen just how much more Seoul should tolerate the North's unilateral actions.

We are dumbfounded by the lack of logic in Pyongyang's argument that the United States is trying to mess up the Mount Kumgang tourism project. North Korea also seems to maintain a distorted view of South Korea. Pyongyang may interpret some American officials' argument that it may be using proceeds from the tourism project for military purposes as a disruption instigated by the United States. However, nothing could be further from the truth than North Korea's argument that the United States worked toward the break-up of the Hyundai Group and called on its affiliates to withdraw from the tourism project.

More than anything else, we are shocked by North Korea's expression, "The United States that militarily occupies Korea." This is because the expression represents the core of North Korea's stance on South Korea ever since the division of the country. Using such an expression makes us believe that North Korea has not changed a bit even in this era of reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas.

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