Saving the deal

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Saving the deal

United States Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is likely visiting Pyongyang today. As the top American negotiator in the six-party talks, his visit represents the serious state of the North Korean nuclear issue.

In addition, North Korea has unexpectedly proposed holding military talks with the South.

This may be a meeting designed to deliberate on the three main issues facing the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Those three issues are: free communications, passage of people and customs clearance. However, there is a possibility that our national security could be unilaterally undermined or even threatened.

The Korean Peninsula may be on the brink of serious tension. The Korean government must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The two Koreas have failed to break the deadlock that began with the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration. The construction of dormitory facilities inside the industrial complex has recently emerged as a new disheartening factor.

The two Koreas had agreed to build a dormitory for more than 15,000 North Korean workers, since there aren’t enough women in their 20s or 30s residing in Kaesong to provide sufficient manpower. However, Seoul’s stance is that inter-Korean talks should be held before the agreement is implemented. The North keeps insisting that all we need to do is implement the existing agreement and conduct no more inter-Korean dialogue on the matter. As a result, the supply of manpower is at risk.

In this regard, it is of great importance that President Lee and opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun shared their views on how to tackle the inter-Korean issue, drawing on bipartisan cooperation. The two remained split over the construction of the dormitory at the industrial complex but agreed to resolve the three main problems.

In addition, Chung agreed to take full advantage of his party’s networks and knowledge gained in its dealings with the North.

They must figure out how to move on to a concrete course of action. We should continue this bipartisan cooperation and strive not to follow the pattern of agreeing on generalities and then allowing disagreement on particulars to break the deal.

The political summit should yield tangible results in dealing with humanitarian food assistance and the construction of the dormitory at Kaesong. By doing so, we can prevent the North from making unreasonable requests.

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