[EDITORIALS]Don't forget the detailsThe preparation for groundbreaking ceremonies to link cross-border rails and roads has been proceeding smoothly. The two Koreas held military talks over the weekend and hammered out safeguard pacts Sunday to begin work inside the Demilitarized Zone. During the working-level talks, Seoul and Pyeongyang's delegates tried to resolve many complications by extending their meeting. The two sides showed serious attitudes on both days, but we still see room for improvement when preparing such important projects.
First, the South has been making rule-of-thumb estimates in its North Korea projects because we have been too busy to present immediate achievements. The National Defense Ministry bought three sets of equipment to remove thousands of mines from the DMZ at the end of 2000. And yet, two of the three expensive machines can't accommodate our terrain, thus wasting 4 billion won ($3.3 million). The Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said in August that Seoul will support 30 billion won to the North to build rail and road links; the amount was increased to 48 billion won as a result of the rail talks that ended Monday.
Such changes may be seen trivial in the course of dramatic improvements in inter-Korean relations. The government will, however, lose public confidence when such incidents are repeated. Thus, Seoul must be attentive when spending its budgets and calculating the amount of aid to the North.
The North also has to abandon its long practice of making absurd demands and creating an unreasonable atmosphere at the negotiation table. At the rail talks in Mount Geumgang, the North reportedly refused to name the locations of the ground-breaking ceremonies, saying it is their military that will decide.
Furthermore, the South Korean delegation had to stay in temporary lodging, which was actually a container box, because the family reunions happened to take place at the Mount Geumgang resort when the talks were held. That is discourteous. It could be a small matter, but the inter-Korean talks will proceed favorably only when trifling details get in the way.