[EDITORIALS]It takes 2 to reconcileThe North Korea policy of the Roh administration is descending into chaos. The president suggested out of the blue to have a summit meeting and promised “unconditional assistance” to the North.
At the recent general level military talks, Seoul said that redrawing the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea could be discussed.
But the test operations of cross-border railways, which Seoul had expected to be carried out after two disappointments, fall apart again for no persuasive reasons.
The biggest problem in these incidents is a lack of transparency. There is no sign that the North has changed its stance of not discussing its nuclear weapons program. There is still no possibility that South and North Korea can solve this problem without the United States.
Seoul needs to ask itself what is the meaning of having a summit meeting when Pyongyang keeps breaking its agreements.
Former President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Pyongyang also stirs confusion. The administration and Mr. Kim have not agreed on whether he will be visiting the North as special envoy or as a civilian.
Mr. Kim said that he would discuss methods of reunification, and an adviser at the Blue House said yesterday that the administration did not expect very much from Mr. Kim’s visit.
Mr. Kim’s intention to discuss such issues is not desirable, because it could divide South Korean public opinion over North Korean issues.
An even more serious problem is that while the president talked about his expectations for Mr. Kim’s visit, his adviser said something quite different. Is this a well-managed administration?
We need to look into the issue of providing aid to the North from a new perspective. Humanitarian aid must be provided, of course, but Seoul needs to show that if Pyongyang breaks its agreements we will react accordingly. Seoul has put heavy emphasis on providing aid to the North in a bid to enhance inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation.
But if Pyongyang does not respond to our good intentions in helping it, should we retain our basic policy on the North?
We need to abandon our idea of “a unilateral embrace of the North.” We need to punish Pyongyang for its abrogation of agreements.
We also must not be fooled by Pyongyang’s trick of citing its military’s opposition when it breaks promises.