[EDITORIALS]The talking endsThe North Korea policy of the Roh administration has proved to have its limits. The 19th round of inter-Korean ministerial talks were held despite opposition from inside and outside the government. But the talks came to an abrupt end without producing any breakthrough. The North’s delegation condemned the South and went back home a day earlier than had been planned. The talks should not have been held at all.
It became clear that it was a naive idea for the administration to say it wanted to persuade the North to change. The North’s delegation made provocative remarks emphasizing its “military-first” policy from the beginning. In the end, they lost their tempers and left the talks.
This round of talks showed what the North thinks of the South. It made outrageous remarks, such as that its military-first policy protects South Korea and that the ministerial talks are not to be used to talk about military issues or the six-party talks. By this they mean that Seoul should pay the price the North wants because the North protects us.
Seoul’s reaction to the North’s missile launches was irresponsible. Seoul had said earlier that the North’s missile tests were only political maneuvering.
It has become clear what South Korea should do now. North Korea threatens South Korea’s security. Half of North Korea’s missiles target South Korea. Hundreds of thousands of long-range artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers are aimed at Seoul.
But the North Korea policy of the Roh administration dulls the people’s alertness about national security. This policy should be abolished unless the South Korean government wants to leave our security to the North and pays the price for doing so.
This does not mean that inter-Korean relations must become hostile, like they were in the past. A policy of reconciliation and cooperation can be carried out properly only when the administration is determined not to compromise over matters involving its national security.
It is hard to find a way for South Korea to end the missile crisis immediately and on its own. It should watch efforts made by international society and provide the necessary assistance to such efforts. The government needs to make an appropriate reaction without a delay to the North’s missile launches, as it did to Japan’s musing about a pre-emptive attack against the North. Seoul should not forget that our alliance with Washington protects our security ― at least until we can do it all ourselves.