[EDITORIALS]Stop mollycoddling NorthThe separated family reunion in Mount Kumgang has been sabotaged by North Korea. Of reports composed by broadcast journalists, the North complained about the expression, “South Korean kidnapped to the North,” and banned the footage from being sent to the South and limited journalists’ activities. The North also did not allow South Korean participants of the family reunion to return to the South on time, in protest of an SBS journalist’s refusal to stop his activity and leave the North immediately.
The incident makes us rethink what the true nature of the North Korean regime is. The North has failed to end its practices of deception and making unreasonable demands. Although it had abducted the fishermen, the North has been claiming that they went to the North voluntarily. That is a problem in itself. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the North is picking on the South Korean journalists for identifying them as civilians kidnapped by the North.
Such practices by Pyongyang will earn a backlash from the South Korean people, although they have been trying to understand the North Korean system. Pyongyang’s leadership must remember that the repercussions from the South Koreans will not contribute to reconciliation between the two Koreas.
North Korea is being unreasonable because the South Korean government has been coping with the incident tepidly. At an inter-Korean event in November last year, the North acted similarly. The Unification Ministry, however, spoke leniently, only saying, “We need to look into the matter further.” A senior government official said then that Seoul would come up with measures to prevent the recurrence of a similar incident, but that promise has proven to be empty.
Most of all, we feel disturbed by the South Korean officials’ way of handling this incident. The officials at the reunion event practically asked South Korean journalists to make concessions, pointing out the difference of system and culture between the two Koreas.
Seoul is extremely cautious not to irritate Pyongyang, but isn’t that why the North keeps repeating its unreasonable actions?
Today, North Korea is in hardship due to its isolation and economic problems. Taking into account such unfortunate circumstances, we probably need to understand the North’s unreasonable behavior if possible. However, the government must act decisively to counter any violent threat ― such as the incident at Mount Kumgang. That is the only way to change North Korea.