[EDITORIALS]Dam demands absurd

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[EDITORIALS]Dam demands absurd

At a working-level negotiation between the two Koreas to begin joint inspection of the North's Mount Geumgang dam, Pyeongyang demanded an apology and compensation from the South, breaking off the talks. Let's be blunt here: The North's demands were unreasonable. Seoul must thoroughly examine the background of Pyeongyang's groundless claims and take proper action to do a joint inspection of the dam.

At the meeting, the North stressed that the dam had no safety concerns. North Korean negotiators said the South raised the question about the dam's stability and the possibility of using the dam as a method of threat to the South by causing floods. Thus, the North demanded that the South apologize and compensate for damaging its reputation.

We may have crossed the line, if the dam is proved sturdy. The North, however, is aware of the reasons why the South has such doubts. Under international practices, any industrial use of international rivers must be discussed with countries located on those rivers. And yet the North did not follow such procedures and started construction. At the time of the building of the dam and afterward, the North continuously ignored our complaints. Back then, inter-Korean relations were frozen to the worst degree. The location and the size of the dam were enough of a threat to the South.

When the South questioned safety concerns based on satellite photos showing cracks in the dam, the North explained that the two cracks on the upper part of the dam were roads built for additional work. Who could possibly believe such an explanation? When we proposed to do precise inspection using special equipment, the North persisted in visual examinations only. A precise scientific survey is a must. How can anyone be sure of complete safety when only a visual inspection is done?

The North should not present unreasonable excuses to avoid joint inspections. Rather, the North must allow thorough inspections and reinforce the structure's safety. Instead of demanding an apology and compensation, respecting international rules is the first step toward rapprochement and cooperation.
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