Seeing reason

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Seeing reason

The floating of propaganda leaflets across the border by civic organizations is posing a risk to inter-Korean relations.

North Korea said Monday that if the leafleting doesn’t stop, inter-Korean relations will be entirely severed and its military will act.

The South Korean government, however, is taking a vague stance, saying that leafleting goes against the agreement between the two Koreas not to condemn each other, but that there is no cause or law to stop the civic groups from distributing the leaflets.

The civic organizations are determined to continue. As the situation is so serious it might disrupt operations in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, wise action needs to be taken now.

It is understandable that the civic groups, which consist of North Korean defectors and relatives of those who have been abducted by the North, want to condemn the Kim Jong-il regime. Considering the pain and agony that they have suffered for decades, even more serious actions by them are understandable.

It is meaningful, in a sense, to let North Korean citizens know the truth. However, what’s more important is to take into account the different realities in the South and the North and to manage the situation so that the two Koreas are in a state of peace while separate. That was one of the reasons why South and North Korea have agreed to operate the Kaesong Industrial Complex and allow tourism in Mount Kumgang.

We should assess the leafleting from this perspective. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is becoming more complex. The South is experiencing a serious economic crisis. The North is dealing with rumors that Kim Jong-il’s health is deteriorating.

The South Korean administration must remain alert. It must draw up detailed measures to prevent worsened inter-Korean relations from damaging the economy.

It is just as important that civic organizations refrain from unreasonable acts. This doesn’t mean that we are giving in to North Korea’s threats. Of course we should confidently handle any unreasonable threats from Pyongyang. But provoking North Korea for no reason doesn’t do any good and only brings negative results.

During the former administration, some civic groups revealed their pro-North Korean attitudes and that had a negative influence on inter-Korean relations.

An association of Christian North Korean defectors said it would stop dropping leaflets for a while. This is the right thing to do.
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