[EDITORIALS]Tone-deaf North

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[EDITORIALS]Tone-deaf North

North Korea's comprehension of current affairs is still shaky. In its joint New Year editorial issued on Wednesday, Pyeongyang called the present situation on the peninsula "a confrontation between Koreans in the North and the South against the United States." South Korea and its immediate neighbors are trying their best to come up with a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis triggered by the North. The North's poor understanding of the situation is a disappointment.

We are concerned that Pyeongyang's attitude will limit many of our options at home and abroad; Roh Moo-hyun has already said he would continue this administration's engagement policy to end the crisis through dialogue. Mr. Roh questioned the effectiveness of a containment policy; he vowed to take the initiative in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. Mr. Roh plans to talk to the North and persuade neighboring countries to support that dialogue. Mr. Roh seems to believe that Pyeongyang's nuclear ambitions, making the South a hostage, is a threat to South Korea's national security.

The two Koreas have agreed that developing and possessing nuclear weapons will not help the peninsula's future and signed the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Seoul also allowed Washington to lead the negotiations after the North said it would withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in March 1993; the issue was an international concern.

Today, North Korea is obsessed with talking only to the United States, dismissing South Korea's participation in talks. At the same time, Pyeongyang is trying to reject U.S. diplomatic pressures by appealing to the South that blood is thicker than diplomacy. By encouraging anti-American sentiment here to induce Washington to the negotiation table, Pyeongyang is only embarrassing South Korean supporters of an engagement policy.

The South Korean people, who have paid little attention to the nuclear crisis, are now feeling pressed. Seoul also launched a multidirectional diplomacy to persuade its neighbors because the South does not regard the nuclear threat as a bilateral issue but an international one. Only when the North realizes that will its national interests be guaranteed.
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