[EDITORIALS]Paying homage to war deadThe North Korean delegation to the August 15 Grand National Festival in Seoul paid homage to the war dead at the National Cemetery yesterday. It is meaningful that the members of the northern delegation visited the cemetery where the tablets of patriots who fought for national liberation, who sacrificed their lives to defend South Korea from invasion during the Korean War and who were killed by North Korean agents or armed guerrillas, are enshrined.
This could be a gesture that symbolizes a milestone in the promotion of reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas. However, the northern representatives didn’t mention a word about those who perished during the Korean War or the war itself during their visit to the cemetery. Kim Ki-nam, the chief delegate, remarked to the journalists before his visit, “We will visit [the cemetery] because the tablets of those who dedicated their lives for national liberation are enshrined there.”
We do not intend to degrade the meaning of their visit. As representatives of the side that started the Korean War, it must have been hard to pay tribute to the Korean War dead. However, we think that paying a silent tribute, and arbitrarily limiting the object and intention of the visit, is not enough to open a new chapter in inter-Korean relations.
If North Korea wants to open a new era of reconciliation and cooperation, the north’s leader must make an official apology and reflect on the provocation of the Korean War, which sacrificed millions of our compatriots’ lives. One visit will not help restore confidence and open the road to reconciliation and cooperation.
Some point out that the North might intend to demand a similar gesture from the South. The delegation’s visit to the national cemetery is symbolic, but we must refrain from exaggerating its importance.
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