[EDITORIALS]North Korea will come to us

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[EDITORIALS]North Korea will come to us

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said destabilizing the North Korean regime by encouraging defectors isn’t the South’s policy. Seoul will not transport North Korean defectors en masse, he said. The obvious interpretation of Mr. Chung’s remarks is that South Korea will no longer accept mass entries of defectors, such as the airlift of 468 defectors in July.
This is the most remarkable nonsense. Was Mr. Chung speaking in his capacity of unification minister? Including yesterday’s statements, Mr. Chung has shown that his awareness of defector issues and North Korea policy is seriously wrong.
Mr. Chung has failed to understand that the defector issue is a matter of human rights ― a universal value of mankind. In the international community, human rights are firmly established as inalienable.
Furthermore, we are responsible for the care of North Koreans: They are our brethren. That is why the government must keep its principles of protecting defectors with respect to human rights. Seoul should not take unprincipled positions. Mr. Chung’s logic that “accepting defectors individually is possible, but en masse is not” is not acceptable. During the years Germany was divided, West Germany completely ignored East German complaints about accepting defectors.
But the unification minister of South Korea ― a responsible member of international society ― is approaching the defector issue from a different angle. He is paying too much attention to the North Korean government, not the North Korean people.
“It is understandable from the North Korean point of view that North Korea sees the mass transport of defectors as a serious threat to its regime,” Mr. Chung has said. “In inter-Korean relations, competitive policies between the two regimes have been abandoned,” he also said. Such remarks reveal Mr. Chung’s approach.
As unification minister, Mr. Chung can make remarks of appeasement toward North Korea to thaw frozen inter-Korean talks. But appeasement repeated too many times may be viewed as “flattery to the North” and will help no one. It is also ineffective in resuming inter-Korean talks: Pyeongyang, so far, has made no positive response. That speaks for itself.
When North Korea is in need, it will knock on our door. Mr. Chung must remember that in his handling of inter-Korean affairs.
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