[EDITORIALS]North Korea at a crossroads

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[EDITORIALS]North Korea at a crossroads

While Pyeongyang is justifying its nuclear program as self-defense, North Korean economic delegates visiting the South are skipping meals to see as many business sites as possible. We would like to point out that the best way for Pyeongyang to defend its viability and independence is to concentrate on bettering the lot of its people.

Pyeongyang stresses that its nuclear program is to defend against military threat from Washington. It says Pyeongyang and Seoul must cooperate to pressure Washington. Its theory goes: "If South Korea is uncomfortable, North Korea cannot be comfortable either, because we are brothers." If Seoul cooperates with the United States, it says, the threat of nuclear war will be a reality on the Korean Peninsula. Such a theory or threat may work in the North, but for South Koreans, it only resonates negatively. Were the numerous infiltrations into South Korea and the recent attacks off the west coast all to comfort South Korea? Do its efforts to strengthen its military power, including the nuclear program, aim solely at the United States? Because it has concentrated wealth and energy on strengthening military might, the North's economy has gone astray and its people risk starvation. Why does Pyeongyang not admit it? Does it sincerely believe there is one single South Korean who would buy its urging "joint cooperation to pressure the United States?"

This behavior puts those who believe that South Korea should help the North in a difficult position. If North Korea genuinely wants help and investment in an industrial complex in Gaeseong, it must start by dumping irrational theories. South Koreans want to help North Koreans overcome their hapless economy, because we feel that all Koreans are brothers. But the premise for such help is confirmation that North Korea does not wish to overwhelm the South with military strength. The economic delegates should witness the exact state of mind of South Korea before they go home. They also must contribute to transforming North Korean policy. The true way to win is to revive living standards, not military strength. Nuclear weapons only pose a threat to the livelihoods of North Koreans.

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