[EDITORIALS]Fertilizing bilateral relations?One wonders what exactly the objective of the government is in holding talks with the North when taking a look at its negotiating attitude. We have argued that the North’s nuclear ambitions and bilateral relations cannot be dealt with separately at these talks.
Nevertheless, the government is making a mistake by making a proposal that veers from nuclear disarmament talks.
The proposal in question is asking the North to hold senior-level minister meetings at a joint celebration to mark the fifth anniversary of the June 15 inter-Korean summit between then-President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.
The celebration is an annual event in which civic organizations from both the South and North and abroad participate. Thus, the event can be conducted on a civilian level. Why do we have to push for a minister-level meeting at this point?
During talks with the North, we only briefly touched upon the North Korean nuclear issue like it was trivial matter. It looked like the government was trying to get a nod from Pyongyang for a ministerial meeting in Pyongyang. Does the government have no pride left?
The government is arguing that if a minister goes to Pyongyang, an opportunity may arise that will improve bilateral ties. That could be true. Nevertheless, the South has proposed to resume minister level talks in June in Seoul. What meaning does the Pyongyang meeting carry then?
Under these circumstances, it is no wonder speculation has surfaced that the current talks are only aimed at getting South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young a ticket to Pyongyang. Even if the minister goes to Pyongyang, what good does it do after so much begging?
The world is watching what these talks can accomplish in terms of positively influencing the North Korean nuclear issue. If the government just gives 200,000 tons of fertilizer but does not gain any ground on the nuclear problem, we have to think about how the international community will view the South Korean government.
We need to get tangible results from the talks. If the North only receives fertilizer but chooses not to give something back, cooperation between South and North will only get more difficult. The relationship between the two Koreas cannot be used to further one’s own fame. The fate of a nation is at stake. We should not look like people who are desperate to get a ticket to Pyongyang.