[EDITORIALS]Ambiguity is deadly

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[EDITORIALS]Ambiguity is deadly

Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung has created a controversy. He argued that the affluent South should take care of impoverished North Korea, implying that he wants to provide massive aid to the North. His remarks are dangerous.
People must wonder why on Earth we should provide massive aid to North Korea after it conducted a nuclear test. Many say that the minister chose not to see that the North’s poverty has been caused by the Pyongyang regime.
Minister Lee said that nuclear weapons cannot secure the North’s security and made an ambiguous plea for Pyongyang to change course.
Mr. Lee’s remarks reveal serious problems. He fails to see the issue clearly. Less than two months have passed since North Korea carried out a nuclear test, and it is busy proclaiming itself to be a nuclear state, instead of abandoning its nuclear programs.
We believe the North must understand that we will not send anything but the most minimal aid until it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons and then does so in a manner that is verifiable and transparent.
If such a message is to be sent and understood, the position in the Unification Ministry must be crystal clear. North Korea must understand that the abandonment of its nuclear arms is a precondition for aid.
Second, Minister Lee asserted that North Korea’s poverty is one of the reasons it conducted a nuclear test. Few people, other than those in North Korea’s regime, believe that North Korea’s poverty is anything but the result of its oppressive regime.
But Minister Lee argued that North Korea had carried out a nuclear test in a bid to overcome its poverty, yet even North Korea has not been so foolish as to make this claim.
Even the North Korean government must find it bizarre that the South Korean unification minister acts as though he was a spokesperson for North Korea.
We accept the argument that we should mitigate the pain of the North Koreans whose suffering is a scar upon this peninsula. But there is a limit to how much assistance can be given when the North Korean authorities do not try to improve their own situation.
Moreover, North Korea’s nuclear test has imposed a serious threat to our security and that of neighboring countries.
The best we can do for now is to provide nothing but basic humanitarian aid. And when offering such aid, we should make sure it is North Korean residents who benefit. Any ambiguity about this may cost lives.

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