[EDITORIALS]The sizzle and the steakSouth and North Korean officials will be commuting from their homes for the working-level talks that start Saturday. They will be discussing the reconnection of inter-Korean railways and roads. South Korean officials who will participate in the talks, the fifth of their kind, will travel between Seoul and Gaeseong, just north of the Demilitarized Zone, daily for the four-day talks. The significance of these “commuter talks” is the show of some progress in the history of official contacts between the South and the North regardless of the substance of this particular dialogue. It is symbolic of reconciliation and cooperation. This detail, however minor it may seem now, could act as an important motivation for the reunification of the two Koreas later.
It may be that both Seoul and Pyeongyang agreed to the step in recognition of the domestic and international political situation. Amid the heat it is receiving for its nuclear program, North Korea is incessantly urging “ethnic cooperation” from the South. Pyeongyang even insists that its military power is the “last fortress of ethnic defense that also protects the South” and is demanding that Seoul form an anti-American coalition with it. Our government of course rejects such nonsense from the North, but emphasizes that the atmosphere of reconciliation must continue in order to put an end to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Their objectives may be different, but both the North and the South agree that there is some promotional value here.
Still, substance must come along with style. Both sides must be bold: North Korea must abandon its illusion that it can wave weapons and get international society’s respect. This problem could be solved naturally if the North concentrated on feeding its people and becoming prosperous instead.
The North must join international society instead of threatening it; only then can there be an ethnic coalition.
Seoul should also stop coddling the North out of fear of its threats. While the North keeps its nuclear program, we must be firm. Promotional shows are not enough to advance inter-Korean relations.