[EDITORIALS]How to celebrate June 15The government delegation to the “June 15 Unification Grand Festival,” led by Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, leaves for Pyongyang today. As North Korea puts out “anti-U.S.” and “inter-Korean cooperation” slogans more loudly than ever, our attention is on how the North will receive our delegation. There is a possibility that the North may try to sway our delegation for its own purposes. Despite the worries over that chance, our side decided to go ahead with the visit. Mr. Chung has the duty to bring back results that will dispel such worries.
First of all, he must let the North’s leadership understand clearly the message that was agreed at the South Korea-U.S. summit meeting: Both Seoul and Washington will not allow a nuclear-armed North Korea. Especially, Mr. Chung must let North Korea know clearly that the patience of the South will run out, if it drags the nuclear problem on indefinitely. If the issue is glossed over, while economic aid is promised, there will be an enormous negative reaction from in and outside the country.
President Roh Moo-hyun said, “Implementing the agreements without fail is the surest way for developing inter-Korean relations.” Mr. Chung should keep this in mind. It is not the absence of a “declaration” or an “agreement” that inter-Korean relations don’t make progress. The largest stumbling stock is the North’s failure to implement its promises.
The same is true with the South-North Joint Declaration of June 15. It is clear that the declaration has contributed to the easing of tension between the South and the North. Mount Kumkang tours, re-linking of railroads and roads and operation of Kaesong Industrial Complex represent the positive aspects of the declaration. But the problem is the clause that says, “We will achieve unification independently through cooperation of the Korean race.” It gave the North an excuse to insist on “inter-Korean cooperation.” At the summit between former President Kim Dae-jung and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, however, it was agreed that “independence” didn’t mean the exclusivity of “independence” by rejecting foreign forces. The insistence on inter-Korean cooperation is a product of the North’s propaganda organ, and it is a “provocation” that violates the spirit of agreement between the heads of states.
We expect Mr. Chung to behave keeping in mind that his behavior will be recorded in the history. He should not behave out of political consideration for his political career.