[EDITORIALS]There’s no room for excusesThe Korean government said it was considering giving massive economic aid to North Korea in order to bring people kidnapped by North Korea and the prisoners of war back home. Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok repeatedly said “I presume the citizens will understand the cost we need to pay.” Although delayed, it is desirable that the government has changed its stance.
Some 500 soldiers who fought for democracy and risked their lives during the Korean War ended up as prisoners of war and have gone through all manners of hardship for more than 50 years. Another 480 or soinnocent people kidnapped by North Korea met enormous hardship .
If the government is decent, it should take action on this matter. It won’t be even necessary to mention that the United States collects the remains of its dead soldiers at any cost.
The former Korean administrations, sadly enough, haven't done this job properly. The current Roh administration has deepened the resentment of the people remaining in the North and their family members in South, by saying such nonsense as, “If we bring this issue to the surface, it will only stir up the North’s resentment and block cooperation between the two Koreas.” Then, one might ask, why does the government try to normalize relations with Japan, taking its side against the North by admitting that North Korea had kidnapped Japanese people?
If a government closes its eyes to the most urgent matters, there is no room for excuses.
Although the government has changed its policy, there is still much to do. First, how to persuade the North, which will fiercely resist to keep its system?
The government said it would study Germany’s case, but it is not easy to apply their experiences to our situation. West Germany had given enormous aid, as much as 1 trillion won ($1.1 billion), each year from 1972 when the Basic Treaty was signed through unification in 1990. They adopted a step-by-step inducement that the eastern counterpart found difficult to turn down. Our government also should discuss seriously how to find the resources to aid and also to convince the North. They will not be allowed to say, “We have tried everything but the North says no. There is nothing we can do.”
North Korea needs to make an important decision. If the North considers cooperation between the two Koreas as important as it says, it should bear in mind that the unfortunate heritage from the era of confrontation.