[EDITORIALS]Did we cave again?The two Koreas agreed at the fifth round of their economic talks that the South would extend a loan to the North to provide 400,000 tons of rice and continue work on three inter-Korean economic cooperation projects as soon as possible. The South apparently abandoned its determination to counter the North’s threats of “an unspeakable disaster” sternly. The South seemed to stand by the justification that it had to continue to keep an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation amid the escalating nuclear situation.
It is a pity that the government failed again to establish a new culture of inter-Korean dialogue. Our team visited the North to help in its food crisis, but we got only threats in return. South Korea decided to mend the rupture without receiving an apology; the North provided an unconvincing explanation. If that was the intent, why did our team stop the talks for 44 hours and delay the meeting beyond its schedule?
The government must give an honest answer to the doubts that it intended to deceive the people about the North’s threats. Media reports from Pyeongyang said that the South Korean team assumed a stern attitude, demanding that the North Korean chief delegate explain his threats. That reporting was based on briefings by our team’s spokesman. “If the North does not show a change in attitude, our team may just return,” a senior Blue House official said, making the public believe that a demand for an apology was the government’s stance. The government did not say when, how and why that stance changed. The talks ended, and the government is now saying that it demanded a convincing explanation, not an apology. That is deceptive.
We do not object to the Roh Moo-hyun government’s conciliatory policy toward the North to resolve the nuclear situation smoothly. But it is totally different when the government does not protest threats while we are providing enormous amounts of food. Mr. Roh said the South would not be pushed around by the North. Is this all he can do? We are concerned that the Roh administration is repeating a North Korea policy based on shortsighted goals.