[EDITORIALS]Spinning our wheelsNorth Korea's nuclear issue is a life-and-death matter for us, so our voice must be reflected in any resolution of the issue, whatever the settlement is. But neither the government nor the presidential candidates have said anything that would increase our confidence in them after Pyeongyang declared that it would reactivate its frozen nuclear programs. We are also worried at the lack of concern here about the North's actions.
The North's nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully. The leaders of South Korea, the United States and Japan repeatedly cite that principle, but there has been no talk of how to do so. "Peaceful resolution" is just diplomatic rhetoric without any visible substance. The closest thing that anyone is thinking of seems to be persuading Pyeongyang's allies, Russia and China, to put diplomatic pressure on the North. The Kim Dae-jung administration, which has persisted in its engagement policy toward the North, seems too preoccupied with winding up its affairs to think about leverage on the North. Indeed, Seoul may have nothing realistic to offer the North to make it give up its nuclear program, so it simply repeats the rhetoric.
We have left everything to Washington during the two months since North Korea admitted that it has an ongoing nuclear weapons program. The current crisis is rooted in the inability of the two Koreas and the United States to understand one another. It is South Korea's role to urge the United States and the North to talk -- it is also our role to enter those talks at an appropriate time. Seoul and Washington must act in concert, and Seoul should be aggressively twisting Washington's arm to come up with a joint program to pressure the North.
And there seems to be a sense of confidence here, groundless in our view, that the North's nuclear program is not a danger to us. Whether we like it or not, the South Korea-U.S. alliance is a pillar of our security. Criticizing that alliance and stimulating anti-American sentiment will simply lead us farther away from reality.
This government's last mission is to lighten a bit the burden of relations with North Korea and with the United States that is on the shoulders of the next administration.