[Letter to the editor]Face reality about North KoreaRecently inter-Korean ministerial talks ended in frustration without any tangible results as the issue of food shipments to the North blocked progress. South Korea firmly stated that without progress over the North’s nuclear weapon situation, none would be forthcoming. I believe that taking such a strong stance was the right decision for South Korea and should be the model of the diplomacy between the two Koreas in the future. In my view, South Korea has been too naive so far, which led North Korea to think it will receive aid without making good on their promises. South Korea should take harsher actions to force the North to stop giving lame excuses.
South Korea should stop its current aid until North Korea fully satisfies the requirements outlined in the [Feb. 13] joint statement in which North Korea agreed to shut down and seal the main reactor in Yongbyon nuclear facility for the purpose of “eventual abandonment.” However, recent suspicious actions lead one to assume North Korea had no intentions to eliminate its nuclear program.
If South Korea truly wants the North to end nuclear development, it should immediately stop every ongoing aid. Providing unconditional aid will only lead North Korea to consider the [agreement it signed] as worthless. It can resume the aid after the North is entirely cleared of the suspicion it possessed a nuclear program or its intention of developing it.
Second, the current administration should recognize and face the problem of North Korea as it really is. It is clear that the North is unwilling to abandon its new nuclear arsenal even after the agreement in February. However, right after the agreement, President Roh Moo-hyun ordered a revitalization of the aid as soon as possible, as if aid to North Korea will somehow reunify the two Koreas and eventually bring peace. He thinks that the enormous amount of aid will work the same way the Marshall plan did after World War II. However, the circumstances of European countries then, and the circumstances of North Korea now, are completely different. Supporting North Korea, in the hope of achieving the same result as that of the Marshall plan, is both anachronistic and naive. No wonder President Roh is being harshly criticized for not handling the national problem objectively.
Recently North Korea shot two missiles over the Yellow Sea, supposedly only a part of their “normal” military drills. For some time now, we have stopped considering such actions as a sign of a real threat. But South Koreans should wake up to the gravity of the situation.
South Korea should stop blindly aiding North Korea and start an objective diplomacy, looking dispassionately at reality without a nationalistic bias.
Yang Ji yeon, senior at Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies