[EDITORIALS]Seoul in a cornerThe heads of the Group of Eight urged North Korea to stop launching missiles and to abandon its nuclear weapons development programs. The statement came after the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution against North Korea’s missile launches. These demands show a determination by international society not to put up with nuclear and missile threats by the North.
The United States and Japan are reportedly examining measures, including seizing ships loaded with North Korea’s missiles or missile parts, and banning financial transactions with North Korea.
The South Korean administration supported the UN resolution, saying it was balanced because it excluded military action. The administration should then clarify its stance and take steps to support the resolution. But its true attitude is unclear.
Some government officials emphasize that the administration has taken a strong step by suspending shipments of rice and fertilizer to the North. Other officials contradict those comments, saying that there can be no solution to the problem if the UN resolution is interpreted too broadly, or that working-level contacts for inter-Korean ministerial talks should be made. In a nutshell, the government has not fully understood the gravity of the missile incident.
Since North Korea fired its missiles on July 5, the South Korean government has put its emphasis on dialogue and calm response. Seoul held inter-Korean ministerial talks with Pyongyang and described the North’s missile tests as political maneuvering. The administration can clearly see that these attempts have brought no results.
South Korean leaders had to listen to North Korean officials saying that South Koreans benefited from the North’s military-first policy. When the ministerial talks collapsed, North Korea said we would have to pay the price for the failure. North Korea also threatened to continue its missile tests.
It is clear how South Korea should react now. It should work with international society. Of course, Seoul can object to extreme sanctions against the North. But if Seoul insists on promoting plans that international society cannot understand, including plans for another round of inter-Korean talks that have already proved to be fruitless, this country will inevitably be isolated.
If Seoul gives the impression to international society it is taking the side of North Korea even after the adoption of the UN resolution, South Korea itself could be badly harmed.