Time for fraternityIn his speech celebrating Liberation Day and the anniversary of foundation of the country, President Lee Myung-bak said despite the regretful killing at Mount Kumgang, we hope that North Korea will actively engage in dialogue and economic cooperation. He added that we would carry out economic cooperation with the North in accordance with the progress of six-party talks and international cooperation. This means he would separate the incident at Mount Kumgang and general inter-Korean affairs and he would pursue dialogue with the North through economic cooperation.
Since the Lee administration was launched, South-North relations have become tense. Responsibility lies with both sides. The North overlooked the traits of democracy in which all policies can change when the administration is changed. Seoul implemented an extremely hard-line North Korea policy as soon as it took office without examining circumstances carefully.
However, the South broke its own principles and turned toward an appeasement policy. The government first said it would provide food aid to the North only when Pyongyang asked for it. Seoul then retreated and said it would provide food on no conditions. Seoul also changed its stance about Pyongyang’s demand that we fulfill the June 15 joint declaration reached between former President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il and the Oct. 4 joint declaration signed by former President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim.
The authorities discussed the fulfillment of the declarations and President Lee then revealed the will to fulfill them in his speech at the opening of the National Assembly. The government also shook off the burden on North Korea about the Mount Kumgang incident. It’s time the North showed good faith.
It is unlikely that Pyongyang will respond immediately to President Lee’s remarks. However, it doesn’t help to be stubborn for the North. The United States provided food this time, but there is no guarantee that food aid will continue. Taking North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism is a difficult task.
Recently, a South Korean ship and a North Korean vessel collided in North Korean waters, but Pyongyang allowed the South’s boat to go back home in a day. The North insisted it did so out of national fraternity.
This is a good sign. Pyongyang should go further and hold dialogue with Seoul.
We should do more than make suggestions; we should present concrete methods to Pyongyang.