[EDITORIALS]Clarify views on the North

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[EDITORIALS]Clarify views on the North

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young refuted U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, who asked the Korean government to express a clear position against North Korea.
Criticizing Mr. Hyde’s comment that “South Korea must say who its enemy is if it wants to receive support from the United States,” Mr. Chung said, “Mr. Hyde, who said the United States will assist us only when Korea defines its enemy first, did not understand the purpose of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.”
We believe Mr. Chung may well express his own opinion against U.S. politicians’ hard-line remarks against North Korea. We understand there can be differences between Seoul and Washington in the way they approach the North Korean nuclear issue.
But we are concerned about the way and the context in which Mr. Chung’s remark was made. With his remark, first of all, it has became difficult for us to believe the government’s official explanation that “there is no problem for the South Korea-U.S. relationship.”
Already, Seoul and Washington have not been in harmony concerning human rights issues in North Korea and aid to the country. Amid this situation, Korea’s top minister responsible for national security and diplomacy openly criticized the U.S position.
Moreover, we do not understand why Mr. Chung let his spokesman do all the talking while he himself remained silent. We would also like to ask why he mentioned, so suddenly without a sufficient background explanation, the sensitive issue that many observers speculate is meant to confront the United States. That is why we now hear such concerned comments as, “Does Mr. Chung have a particular political aim?” and “Has a red signal been turned on for the alliance?”
Mr. Chung now will have to clearly express the Korean government’s position toward the United States. He may either say, “We cannot accept the U.S. position any more, so we will pursue these kinds of measures” or “There is no particular problem.”
We wonder what kind of results the six-party talks will get if there is such an internal rift in the South Korea-U.S. alliance. If the rift continues, then public unease will grow. The government should recognize the severity of the issue and prepare measures to remove the discord between Seoul and Washington.

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