[LETTERS to the editor]When carrots fail, wield the stick!The president’s North Korea policy, which it calls a “peace and prosperity policy,” has as its assumption that the North is our “partner.” However, seeing what’s going on these days, this assumption couldn’t be more in doubt. One can be called a partner if there is cooperation. Let’s see whether the North qualifies for this definition.
Recently, the North unilaterally withdrew from a planned testing of reconnected railway lines, which gained much commentary from the media. What’s the surprise? It’s not the first time the North acted unilaterally, without even a thought of what they have received from the South. Following this, the North also unilaterally canceled a visit by some 200 South Korean journalists at Kaeseong. Is this behavior to expect from a “partner” with whom we cooperate?
More recently, the North allegedly has been selling fertilizer, donated by South Korea, to Thailand; other products, including cows, are said to have been resold to other countries. It seems they are raising more foreign currency in order to strengthen their military. No wonder they demanded more fertilizer earlier this year. This incident, again, is not surprising. It’s hard to have solid proof, but many suspect that aid from South Korea never really reaches the suffering people in North Korea, instead being channeled to vested interests. The North does not allow external groups to monitor whether aid goes to the right hands. Extorting from the South, saying they need aid for their people while fattening only Kim Jong-il and his aides, is not what we expect from a partner.
What then is the government doing? It is busy trying to prove that the only visible accomplishment of the “peace and prosperity policy,” the Kaeseong Industrial Complex, is a real success, while pressuring large companies to move some factories there. But this is doubtful.
In addition, President Roh said in Mongolia that he is planning to provide unconditional aid to the North; he seems desperate to prove that the government’s policy can work.
This appeasement policy is bound to fail. It looks as if the mother (the South) is trying to coax the kid (the North) with snacks and candies, leaving the kid to do whatever he pleases. However, common sense tells us that this is failed education. Now is the time to pick up the stick! The government should acknowledge its failure and accept some of the United States’ policies toward the North. We don’t want war; blindly following the United States is wrong since it will only seek its own national interest. Still, a hard-line policy is sometimes needed, especially when we can clearly see the North is not only our brother, but a brother from another planet.
by Jang Hye-won