[EDITORIALS] 3 years later, no progressThree years ago Sunday in Pyeongyang, 70 million residents of the two Koreas were carried away with emotion as if they had been united as one. The world watched closely as the Korean Peninsula faced a new era, an era in which Koreans vowed to melt their guns to make plows. That day, the leaders of the two Koreas met each other for the first time after a divided half-century. The event was extremely meaningful and it encouraged great hope.
But three years later we are experiencing the cold reality that the event could be only a daydream created by the political plots of the two Kims of the two Koreas. That is an inevitable ending because then-President Kim Dae-jung and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il attended the summit with different intentions. The North Korean leader was already developing a nuclear weapons program when he agreed to the historic June 15 Joint Declaration for peaceful reunification. President Kim also intended to heighten his political status and international reputation by having the meeting. The secret of a $500 million transfer to the North is now coming to light; the deal was the catalyst to get the two sides together.
That is why there was no substantial progress in inter-Korean relations, despite growing exchanges and increased cooperation. To achieve peaceful unification through cooperation, military tension on the peninsula must be solved first. Such progress requires trust. The continued development of nuclear weapons works against that trust and stabs in the back of the spirit of the Joint Declaration. That is why the North must give up its nuclear program before demanding the South implement the agreements.
We believed that the summit helped stabilize the Korean Peninsula. It is time to drop that hypothesis. The idea of engaging the North, which wants to return our tremendous support with nukes, only fuels a burning fire. Until the North decides to dismantle its nuclear programs, we must employ all possible measures, including an alliance with the United States. The intallation of the June 15 Joint Declaration should begin with the abandonment of the North’s nuclear program.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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