[VIEWPOINT]Unbelievable meeting of ‘journalists’A unification forum between journalists in South and North Korea was held for four days, Tuesday through Friday, at the foot of Mount Kumgang. The meeting was reportedly held at the Cultural Center in Onjeong-ri. About 115 journalists from the South and 60 from the North participated. According to a report by Yonhap News on Wednesday, “The journalists from the South and the North held a forum at Mount Kumgang and adopted a resolution on joint projects between the South and the North.”
The content of the joint statement sounded strange to me. It starts by saying that, “In order to carry out the duty and responsibility of the witnesses of the South and North Joint Statement of June 15, 2000, the journalists of the South and the North proclaim as follows ...” It then presents four tasks for journalists: “We, journalists of the South and the North, support the Joint Statement of June 15, 2000 and take the lead in implementing it; We firmly oppose and reject any outside intervention in the internal affairs of the nation and threats of war; We will reject any report that can foster the disintegration of the nation and report fairly in the direction of promoting reconciliation and unity of the nation; We will continuously promote our joint cooperation projects.”
The forum was not a place for the discussion of joint projects between officials of the South and the North who work in the field of inter-Korean economic cooperation. It was a place for frank discussion among journalists who confront sensitive issues every day at the forefront of our society and write news articles after much agonizing and contemplation. How could a joint statement that was adopted after serious discussion fail to refer ― not even in a single word ― to the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons? Putting aside the North Korean journalists, who belong to a different world, how could the journalists from the South, as many as 115, agree to the adoption of a joint statement that failed to mention the nuclear issue? It was unbelievable.
It is said that the forum for the journalists in the South and the North, the first such gathering since the pan-Korean journalists’ congress held in October 1945, was a meaningful event.
Another event with similar meaning was held on Oct. 30 at Mount Kumgang. It was the inaugural meeting of the “inter-Korean association of literary men.” It was held with the participation of 80 writers from the South and the North, commemorating the South-North Joint Statement. Because the meeting was held right after North Korea’s nuclear test, South Korean writers who took part acted very discreetly.
The South Korean delegation to the meeting made its position clear against the North’s possession of nuclear weapons through a press release that read, “The viewpoint of the writers from the South.” It said as follows: “No war, no nuclear weapons has been the slogan of our writers for a long time. We can never give up the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, because it is an issue on which the fate of the nation’s existence depends. North Korea must refrain from carrying out additional nuclear tests and return to the six-party talks, and the United States should show a sincere attitude to dialogue.”
Even the Democratic Labor Party’s delegation visiting Pyongyang expressed regret about the North’s nuclear test to the Social Democratic Party of North Korea on Nov. 1.
The labor party delegation emphasized the principle of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when it had the chance to meet with Kim Young-nam, chairman of the Supreme People’s Congress of North Korea.
What topics and issues were discussed at the inter-Korean journalists meeting? Is the nuclear issue a non-urgent matter that can be skipped over without a word at the meeting?
A part of this question was answered by the chairman of the Korean Journalists’ Association, Chung Il-yong, who represented the South Korean journalists at the meeting.
According to an article posted at the Web site of the journalists’ association, Mr. Chung said at the meeting that, “The imperialist country which provoked an invasion war for its own interests is an obstacle to the accomplishment of a self-reliant and peaceful unification.”
He also said, “The countries that possess nuclear weapons must, as is stated in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, come forward to the nuclear disarmament movement instead of just demanding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The expression “instead of just demanding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” made me shiver.
I also object to news reports that fan anti-North Korea sentiment unnecessarily.
I don’t know whether some people will criticize this column, calling it a report that fosters disintegration of the nation. I don’t care.
Let’s think. Nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea is not an issue that can be seen as just one of the pending inter-Korean problems. Since it poses a critical threat to the nation’s survival, there are no alternatives other than complete dismantlement.
Korean modern history has already been classified into two parts, “Before Oct. 9” and “After Oct. 9.” Oct. 9 is the day North Korea tested a nuclear bomb.
Talking about the South-North Joint Statement in the face of a nuclear-armed North Korea is nothing but an empty euphemism.
We are no longer living in the age of the June 15 joint statement, but in the age of post-Oct. 9.
*The writer is the head of the culture and sports desk of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun