North should aim for sincerity

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North should aim for sincerity

North Korea recently initiated a series of propaganda attacks against South Korea, looking to lay the blame for the collapse of meetings that were supposed to pave the way for high-level military talks squarely on our shoulders.

Shortly after North Korean officials walked out of the room on the second day of the meetings last week, Pyongyang began issuing statements through television and radio about the discussions. North Korea’s official mouthpiece - the Korean Central News Agency - also participated in the campaign to paint the South in a bad light.

It marked an about-face from the North’s recent conciliatory gestures to get high-level talks back on track. The country had refrained from making negative statements about the South since early last month, when it proposed that officials of the two Koreas meet without any conditions.

The breakdown in talks is hardly a surprise. The North had only feigned interest in meeting with the South after the United States stuck to its demands that the two Koreas must meet first for six-party talks to resume. The North, from the beginning, had no intention at all of explaining or apologizing for its torpedo attack on the Cheonan naval ship or the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island.

North Korea, in a rare move, disclosed details of the preliminary military talks in an attempt to blame the South for derailing inter-Korean dialogue. It now wants to construct a narrative that has the South blocking the resumption of six-party talks tied to denuclearization and sell that story to China and the United States.

Pyongyang is probably mulling over various options for its next move. It may reattempt inter-Korean dialogue after watching the effect of its gamble. But North Korean leaders are just wasting everyone’s time if they expect the tide to turn in their favor with this type of strategy.

If things do not work out as intended, the North’s regime may soon resort to saber-rattling and provocations again, which is a strategy it has employed in the past. But North Korea has few good cards left in its hand. The country will most certainly further irk the international community if it fires long-range missiles or conducts nuclear tests. It also would risk strong retaliatory actions from South Korea if it attempts another military provocation. If it has any sense, Pyongyang should realize it has only one option left: recommit itself to inter-Korean dialogue with the goal of improving relations.
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