[EDITORIALS]A useful message to the NorthPresident Roh Moo-hyun, visiting Germany, said, “There are times when we should be red in the face with anger and criticize inter-Korean relations.” He also said, “If one side always concedes to the unilateral requests of the other side, then it will be difficult to see a healthy development of inter-Korean relations.”
It is notable that the remarks deviate from Mr. Roh’s previous conciliatory stance toward North Korea.
The Roh administration’s North Korea policy has been to “shelter” the communist country. Seoul has remained silent so far even though Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons clearly violated the 1991 declaration of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula agreed upon by the two Koreas.
During his U.S. tour last November, Mr. Roh even said, “There is some truth in the North Korean argument that its nuclear weapons are a means for self-defense.” The administration did not care about Pyongyang’s declaration that it possessed nuclear weapons, devaluing it as if it were just a bluff to increase Pyongyang’s position in the nuclear talks.
And that is why the public has concerns and doubts about South Korea’s security. The Roh administration continued to favor Pyongyang by not voting for the UN resolution criticizing the country’s human rights situation.
We believe the biggest reason that the South Korea-U.S. alliance is shaky is because Seoul pursued a “unilaterally conciliatory policy” toward North Korea while the United States is opposed to such a move.
We believe Mr. Roh’s remarks yesterday are on the right track in that they may remove the Korean public’s concerns about national security and the alliance’s discord.
Mr. Roh said, “Issues in inter-Korean relations ... should be resolved according to mutual respect and trust between both Koreas.” That comment is right. Building mutual trust is a shortcut to the advancement of inter-Korean relations. If one side does not fulfill its promise, the other side should urge it to honor the pledge. We thus believe Mr. Roh’s pointing to North Korea’s violation of the nuclear-free Korea declaration and Kim Jong-il’s failure to make a reciprocal visit was meaningful.
Pyongyang should listen to what Mr. Roh said. In particular, it should note that “South Korea will be always open if North Korea cooperates.”