[EDITORIALS]North: Where to from here?In the midst of commemorating the fourth anniversary of the historical North-South Summit in 2000, many significant agreements and meetings are taking place between the North and South Koreas. Especially notable was yesterday’s exchange of messages by President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il via Ri Jong-hyuk, vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee of North Korea during the international conference commemorating the inter-Korean summit in June, 2000.
In his congratulatory message, President Roh voiced his intention for comprehensive and epochal assistance to the North, though he said it on condition of “solving the nuclear issue of the North.” Mr. Kim is reported to have said, through Mr. Ri, “Let’s continue to lead the current positive flow between the North and South.” As Mr. Kim suggested, we hope that there will be momentous progress in inter-Korean relations.
As of yesterday, both Koreas halted all propaganda broadcasts along the Demilitarized Zone, which has been a noisy area where abuse has been heaped on each other for 42 years. We view positively such contacts and measures by the two Koreas as an important opportunity to mitigate the confrontation. Both Koreas must work toward maintaining peace on the peninsula. After the June 15 Joint Declaration, the two Koreas fought two naval battles in the Yellow Sea and illegal funds sent to the North came to light. However, if we look at the larger framework, we see that political and military confrontation has dropped over time.
Where do we go from here? We must solve the nuclear problem in the North. If we do not, then progress in Inter-Korean relations may go up in smoke. We need to pay attention to Pyeongyang’s attitude at next week’s third round of six-party talks. We hope that the talks will provide clues to resolving the nuclear issue in order to see more substantial progress in inter-Korean relations. The government must take care not to create problems by giving large amounts of aid to the North one-sidedly or sending illegal funds.
It is meaningful that leaders of four political parties held meetings with former President Kim Dae-jung during the seminar yesterday. We hope for more active nonpartisan discussions on inter-Korean issues.