[EDITORIALS]A policy of errorsThe Unification Minister Lee Jae-jung has expressed his opinion on North Korea. Mr. Lee said that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula needs to be achieved under any circumstances. But he also stressed that bilateral talks must take place between the United States and North Korea, adding that there should be compensations for the North to induce denuclearization.
It’s obvious that the government’s policy toward the North is deeply flawed. First they underestimate the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea. This reveals that, despite all its talk to the contrary, the government has accepted the North’s possession of nuclear weapons. The government is also asking people not to exaggerate the disparity in military force between the two Koreas and the possible threat that poses to the East Asian region. This attitude of denial with regard to a clear and present danger has contributed to a passive posture on security that has forced the international community to view us with a curiosity that may soon turn to contempt. One has to ask whether the government has any intention of achieving denuclearization of the peninsula. Or does it have a secret plan to co-exist with a nuclear North Korea?
Furthermore, it was North Korea who conducted the nuclear test but the government is focusing its criticism on the United States. After the nuclear test, Seoul made a statement criticizing Washington while key Blue House officials have, several times, condemned the policies of the United States. This posture gives comfort to the North despite the fact that Pyongyang has ignored international rules and strong-armed neighboring nations. The nuclear test was the worst choice the North could have made. East European countries, China, Vietnam and Libya have all reformed themselves and joined the ranks of the international community. Nevertheless, North Korea has insisted on a path of aggression and isolation. Instead of criticizing the United States, would it not be better for the administration to use its energy to ask North Korea to end aggression and Pyongyang to start reforms? Have we not learned that unless the North reforms its society it will be hard to resolve the nuclear crisis? The nuclear test has taught us that the engagement policy toward the North has grave limitations. In other words, the government has failed to devise any alternative to a failed policy. It’s inevitable that with so many mistakes it is hard for the administration to navigate the complicated situation on the Korean Peninsula.