Summit of folly

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Summit of folly

The second summit meeting between South and North Korea will be held from Aug. 28 to 30 in Pyongyang, the government announced yesterday. The government had denied any possibility of a summit meeting with North Korea but this has now been revealed as a lie. The summit meeting may record some positive achievements if North Korea agrees to give up all its nuclear weapons and programs. But a meeting could also create a dangerous aftermath that might threaten the foundation of our society.
A summit meeting between South and North Korea can play a crucial role in easing tension, but such a meeting must be planned in a prudent way. In this sense, this summit meeting inspires anxieties rather than expectations.
First of all, the timing for the meeting seems inappropriate. At the 2000 summit meeting, North Korea promised that Kim Jong Il would visit South Korea in return, but he has not kept the promise. But North Korea has now agreed to hold a summit meeting on its turf with a South Korean presidential election just a few months away. It seems that North Korea is playing this card to influence South Korea’s election. President Roh Moo-hyun has not been eager to have a summit meeting with North Korea since he entered office. He believed that North Korea’s nuclear crisis must be resolved first. Even two months ago, he emphasized that nothing good can come from a summit meeting while the North Korean nuclear issue is unresolved. But he has now changed his stance abruptly, even though North Korea has only shut down one reactor -- a baby step toward the resolution of the nuclear issue. One suspects that the South and the North Korea have agreed to hold a summit because the presidents of both countries have the December presidential election on their minds.
There are many problems in the process and contents of a summit meeting. Pyongyang was chosen, but this contradicts the promise made by Kim Jong Il to visit South Korea. Besides, there is no persuasive explanations about what the leaders of the two Koreas will discuss in the meeting. The government said the agenda will be set through existing working-level contacts. That suggests there has been little preparation so far.
In order to assuage these worries, the meeting must produce tangible achievements. Otherwise we will face a serious security crisis, because it will appear that we endorse North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons by holding a summit meeting.
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