Choose missiles or riceNorth Korea’s military threat is increasing. Starting late last month, North Korea began test-firing missiles. It fired cruise missiles twice and on Wednesday, it fired a ballistic missile against the United Nations Security Council resolution. As for redrawing the Northern Limit Line, it has threatened that a clash in the West Sea will turn into a full-scale war.
South Korea has provided an enormous amount of aid to North Korea.
During this administration alone, 3 trillion-won ($3.2 billion) worth of aid has been sent to the North.
This year, 400,000 tons of rice were linked to the resolution of North Korea’s nuclear issue, but the link has disappeared. This is because South Korea has a strong desire to improve inter-Korean relations and it feels compelled to provide humanitarian aid.
But the North Korean regime has responded to South Korea’s goodwill with threats and provocations. North Korea has even said that South Korea must provide it with rice because that protects peace on the Korean Peninsula. The leaders in Pyongyang must know that such a shameless response will only create a negative impression in international society.
It is typical of North Korea’s tactics that it flexes its military muscle in order to increase its leverage in any kind of negotiation. These most recent threats are aimed at the six-party talks, which will soon be resumed. By firing missiles, North Korea probably wanted to signal that the international community must pay a price if Pyongyang is to give up its missiles.
This is not all. North Korea has another intention: It plans to press the Roh Moo-hyun government over fundamental issues, as Pyongyang puts it, such as the redrawing of the Northern Limit Line and abolition of the National Security Law. It is a tactic to make South Korea yield on fundamental issue, by taking advantage of the Roh administration’s desperate desire to maintain inter-Korean dialogue. Thus, more than ever, the South Korean government needs a reasonable and determined North Korean policy.
But the South Korean government’s response is worrisome. With regard to North Korea’s missiles, South Korean military authorities say the launches were just part of regular training and they refuse to elaborate. The United States issued a stern warning to North Korea over the missiles but South Korea said nothing. South Korea should warn the North that if it keeps making threats, the rice aid will have to be stopped.