[EDITORIALS]Seoul must confront NorthNorth Korea threatened it would reconsider all its business with the Hyundai Group if the South Korean firm does not reinstate its former vice chairman, Kim Yoon-kyu. That ultimatum is simply nonsense. How can the North so badly treat its business partner, which provided it with cattle and allowed it to earn foreign currency through the Mount Kumgang tour? It is a problem that the North wants to influence the personnel affairs of its business partner. It is an even more serious problem that the North thinks it can simply revoke a deal with no reservations.
The core issue in the dispute between the North and Hyundai Asan is Mr. Kim’s corruption. He committed various irregularities, including stashing away slash funds, that a businessman shouldn’t do. It is absolutely natural for a company to fire such a corrupt businessman. And yet, why does North Korea try to protect Mr. Kim at all costs? Why is it claiming his corruption charges were fabricated? The answer is simple. We must say that North Korea is linked to Mr. Kim’s acts of corruption.
The South Korean government is largely responsible for the North’s unreasonable stance. Mr. Kim’s corruption would likely have eventually lead to his diversion and embezzlement of the state-financed inter-Korea exchange cooperation funds, but Seoul pressured Hyundai to not make such charges public. That is why the North believes the South Korean government will listen to its demands even if it is acting totally unreasonably. Why does the South Korean government remain silent about such disgraceful behavior by the North? Does it have a weak point regarding the North?
The contract between Hyundai Asan and North Korea must be respected. North Korea must not intervene in the personnel decisions of a private enterprise in South Korea. Seoul must tell Pyongyang directly and clearly these two points. If such principles are not respected, no inter-Korean business will ever work, South Korea must tell the North. Even at the cost of sacrificing the Mount Kumgang tour program, this is the opportunity to teach the North the lesson that it must not act as a superior partner in any inter-Korean business.