[EDITORIALS]Reading the North Korean Mind

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[EDITORIALS]Reading the North Korean Mind

Expectations and concerns flow from the North Korean proposal to hold a grand unification symposium at Mount Kumgang, bringing together people from various sectors of society from the two Koreas and abroad to mark the first anniversary of the June 15 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. There is the optimistic view that the North would take the opportunity to arrange the resumption of inter-government dialogue stalemated since March. On the contrary, there is the pessimistic analysis that the North has made the proposal, while giving cold-shoulder to official talks, as a propaganda ploy and as a tactic to divide the opinion on unification in the South.

It is still difficult to clearly assess the intention behind the proposal. We strongly urge the North to reward the first analysis. It should use the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the consolidation of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation and the improvement of relations with the United States. Only then would the June 15 Joint Declaration and the inter-Korean summit, allegedly realized by National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il's determination, shine as a beacon for the future of the Korean people and peace on the peninsula. It would add further radiance if Chairman Kim responded positively to the call made by President Kim Dae-jung that he fulfill his promise to visit Seoul.

However, the gloomy reality is that the North has suggested holding this grand symposium, without a single mention of talks at the government level. The statements made by Yang Hyong-sop, vice-chair of the Supreme People's Assembly's standing committee, criticizing the United States and expressing dissatisfaction with the South Korean government, when he proposed the symposium on radio, are of concern. The symposium could be used for propaganda to urge the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Korea.

Therefore, when the North officially makes the proposal, the South Korean government and hosting organizations should respond carefully. It goes without saying that what is most important is that the North sincerely focus the symposium's activities on the solidarity of the Korean people for inter-Korean rapprochement, cooperation and unification.
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