[EDITORIALS]An accord, but for what?The Unification Ministry released a press statement labeled “the achievement and meaning of the inter-Korean talks in Kaesong.” The ministry said that the talks made progress in creating an environment to restart the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and that the meeting had normalized the relationship between the two Koreas. The ministry added that the upcoming celebration to mark the fifth anniversary of the inter-Korean summit in 2000 would be significant because of the agreement to allow ministerial-level figures to attend the event. But is this so?
The ministry said it strongly urged the North to promise to give up nuclear arms programs and asked for it to return to the six-party talks. We are sure it did. But it came back with an accord that mentioned no word about nuclear issues. It is too much for the ministry to boast, “the North listened to the South and we contributed to resuming the six-party talks.” We don’t know what Pyongyang’s response was.
The government seems to interpret a sentence in the joint-press statement ― “Both sides will cooperate for the peace of the Korean Peninsula” ― as a great achievement. But it is actually a lame interpretation.
In the past talks, there were accords that directly mentioned the nuclear issues, and statements that strongly emphasized the seriousness of the situation. These talks failed to make clear progress, but the government is praising itself for obscure agreement. We are bewildered.
We feel the same about the agreement over Unification Minister Chung Dong-young’s visit to Pyongyang for the fifth anniversary celebration. In 2001, there was a similar celebration held in Pyongyang by non-government groups. South Korean representatives were sent to the celebration, but they were merely used as a tool for North Korean propaganda.
It is hard to expect how North Korea will react this time when we send the unification minister to the North. The ministry should feel tense and start preparing. But it is apparently excited about the recent meeting, and so we are worried about it.
A deadlock between the two governments will not help either of the two. North Korea made clear that it views the nuclear issue as a concern only between itself and Washington. If the South presents the image that it only cares about restarting ministerial talks, what results will the talks bring? It is not a time for boasting. We have to be ready with measures in our hands.