[EDITORIALS]The North should reciprocateThe inter-Korean exchanges and South Korean assistance to the North that was agreed on during last week’s inter-Korean talks have begun in earnest. South Korean fertilizer was sent by land and sea to the North and 550 university students from both Koreas met today at Mount Kumgang as part of a cultural exchange program.
A major inter-Korean event is to be held in Pyongyang on June 15 and ministerial-level talks are also scheduled. It is a welcome development that the two Koreas are choosing to broaden the framework of conversation and cooperation by meeting more often. As South Korea has promised fertilizer aid, better that it be sent promptly during the crop-planting season to help out the desperate situation in the North.
However, there is one thing that government officials and the participants in these events should not forget. This is North Korea’s nuclear program. Pyongang’s nuclear situation, which could decide the fate of the Korean Peninsula, is still to be resolved. If North Korea’s attitude on nuclear armament does not change despite our humanitarian assistance and exchange policies, the North Korean nuclear situation could indeed develop serious consequences. It would deepen the misgivings that the United States and other neighboring countries have about North Korea and weaken South Korea’s say in the matter. Our efforts to embrace the North must lead to an alleviation of tension with North Korea and actual concessions. Ultimately, these efforts should act as guides to the resolution of North Korea’s nuclear situation.
Unfortunately, North Korea has yet to show any changes. It has yet to show any gesture of stopping its nuclear brinkmanship. It almost seems that we act more anxious to give aid than North Korea is to receive it.
We should also be more cautious in accepting the June 15 event in Pyongyang lest it be a propaganda hoax by the North and misleads Pyongyang on the current political situation.
The June 15 event should not end as an event only but act as an actual step of progress in inter-Korean relations. Careful planning and precautions are warranted. Our interchange in the future with the North should consist of less buzz and more real persuasion in a calm atmosphere. We should stop giving out freebies and rushing over when called for only to come back empty-handed. Instead of only giving when asked, we should ask in return as well.