[EDITORIALS]Wrong signals can be fatalThe key question from yesterday’s meetings between South Korea, the United States and Japan was how the differences between Seoul and Washington over the Kaesong Industrial Complex, Mount Kumgang tourism and the Proliferation Security Initiative would be resolved.
First, Korea and the U.S. agreed to cooperate closely to carry out the UN Security Council resolution and confirmed that the future defense strategy for South Korea will be based on the Seoul-Washington alliance. The two countries also reportedly agreed to consult further over the inter-Korean exchange and the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative.
The confrontation that was looming seems to have receded for now, but it may soon return because members of President Roh’s governing party have been saying that they want no change in the inter-Korean exchange. There was even a governing party legislator who called the U.S. pressure over Kumgang tourism an “impudent intervention.”
It is incomprehensible that the government still seems intent on alienating the U.S. even while anxieties about Pyongyang’s intentions persist.
Listening to high-level officials, for example, we get the strong impression that there will only be minor changes to Kumgang tourism, such as the suspension of the government subsidy. But what if the UN Sanctions Committee decides Kumgang tourism must stop? Will the administration still keep the project open?
This is a serious question, considering this administration’s stance toward the UN Security Council resolution. One good example is a comment by Blue House chief security advisor, Song Min-soon, who said, in relation to Kumgang, “The international community cannot decide the destiny of Korea.” Such a comment may make the international community believe that South Korea is unwilling to carry out the UN resolution.
The UN Security Council is the only organization with the power to impose sanctions on acts that harm the peace and safety of international society.
However, South Korea, which lives or dies through international trade, is giving the impression that it may seek to isolate itself from the rules of the international community and that could have drastic consequences.
Of course, there must be dialogue with North Korea. However, the most urgent question now is how to effectively carry out the UN resolution. If we give the wrong signals now, the world will think we chose trade cooperation with North Korea over security cooperation with the international community. If that happens there will be no solution to the North Korean nuclear issue and our survival will be endangered.