[EDITORIALS]Pyeongyang's credibility

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[EDITORIALS]Pyeongyang's credibility

North Korea has legally designated Mount Geumgang as a special tourist district, another example of the North's efforts to open up to the world. But the North has also unilaterally suspended the removal of mines in the Demilitarized Zone. The demining work is a necessary step before the proposed road access to Mount Geumgang can open in December. There is duplicity in the North's actions, trying to open up while still remaining closed. With that confusion, its relations with the South and the United States are bound to suffer.

The North's refusal to resume mine removal work in the DMZ is based on its refusal to let the United Nations Command play any role in the process. Demining is a matter for the two Koreas to deal with, the North says, and no one else. The U.S.-led multinational force in turn cited the Korean War armistice as the basis for at least obtaining a list of inspectors for the project; the inspections involve people crossing the Military Demarcation Line. The command compromised by agreeing to receive the name list from the South, but the North rejected that idea, and the demining project is suspended.

Is the North serious about connecting the railway and roads before the end of the year, as agreed? If it is, and if it is serious about promoting tourism at Mount Geumgang as its new law suggests, then the North would not have used something as minor as a list of names as a reason to suspend the mine removal operation. What the North may be trying to do is to use the suspended project to discredit the armistice and provoke anti-American sentiment here.

If that is the case, it will not work. Attempts to use its relations with the South for its own purposes only and to demand negotiations with the United States to resolve strategic issues are no longer acceptable. Its attempts to stir up animosity between the United States and South Korea are also doomed to failure. If the North wants to regain its credibility with Seoul and Washington, it must restart the mine removal program. Without such credibility, the Mount Geumgang tourism project will also fail.
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