North sidesteps SouthNorth Korea has proposed military talks with the United States and UN to discuss peace and security issues on the Korean Peninsula. The proposal indicates that the North intends to hold direct negotiations with the United States over a peace treaty and military issues, excluding South Korea.
That request put Foreign Minister Song Min-soon to shame. He said a couple of days ago that the South has an obvious interest in the peace scheme. The North’s call came before the six-party talks that are expected to resume on Wednesday. The North seems to want to include the nuclear and peace treaty issues in the six-party talks. By saying its “nuclear issue is that of the United States,” North Korea strongly suggested that it would bring up the issue of whether American forces in the South pose a nuclear threat. The North seems to want to feel the pulse of the South and the United States over the peace accord matter.
The North has previously included the South in plans for peace treaty talks. In 2000, it proposed four-party talks that included the South, the North, the United States and China. But with the recent proposal, it is obvious that the North wants to exclude the South this time. This proves that the leaders in Pyongyang still believe the South is the United States’s puppet.
The Roh Moo-hyun administration had such an insult coming. The president pledged that the government is willing to offer material and systematical aid to North Korea. Whether the North threatens its security or intervenes in its domestic affairs, the South Korean government has not filed a strong protest.
There is no clear line between humane aid and strategic aid flowing from the South to the North. The government has just been busy giving. Unless it distinguishes between the two, how will the North ever respect the South Korean government?
In this case, the government should revise its North Korea policies. Most of all, it should wake up from the delusion that the North will change if the South constantly supports it. Although the North is suffering economically, its political and diplomatic abilities are getting stronger.
This is not a moment the South can lose its place in the limelight to the North, relying on economic superiority to maintain dominance. The government should also pay close attention to whether the North and the United States have behind-the-scenes contacts excluding the South.