[EDITORIALS]Mr. Kim unpacksFormer President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to North Korea, scheduled for next Tuesday, is not going to happen. An aide to the former president said, “Due to the outbreak of unexpected situations like the North’s move to fire a missile, the plan to visit North Korea in June has been postponed.”
Mr. Kim has said on many occasions that he wanted to visit the North, but he didn’t make clear the purpose of his trip. In an interview with a monthly magazine, he once presented the idea of establishing the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear program as a permanent dialogue channel and spoke of the necessity to induce a North Korean response to U.S. and Japanese proposals as the items on his agenda. He did not proclaim, however, that he wanted to make progress on issues that Koreans clearly see as important, such as bringing home South Koreans kidnapped to the North or who became prisoners of war during the Korean War.
Instead, he made clear his position that he would discuss unification formulas with the North. To be more exact, he expressed his wish to discuss “the common points of the South’s proposal for a coalition and the North’s low-level confederation system proposal.” That is a very dangerous idea that can pull South Korean society into confusion. At present, relations between North Korea and the United States are in their worst condition ever, and the North is escalating its offensive against the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea. It has virtually discarded the “agreement on a unification formula” included in the North-South Joint Declaration. It is because the North defined the agreement to be the “starting point to reunification under the confederation system.” It does not make sense that Mr. Kim discusses unification during a visit to the North. If he insists on doing so, he must keep in mind that he will be criticized for doing so because of personal vanity: a desire to tie up loose ends from that joint declaration in 2000. North Korea has recently strengthened its political and military offensive against the South. The North exerts all its efforts in expanding its “unification front tactics,” speaking of issues “among the Korean race” and trying to split South Koreans ideologically. Tensions along the Northern Limit Line are mounting gradually. If a former president visits North Korea in the present circumstances, he will probably just be used by the North. For that reason, the decision to postpone his visit was correct.
When and if planning for a trip resumes, we hope that the government will approach the matter in a more discreet manner.