Our diplomacy needs a polishNorth Korea’s paramount National Defense Commission has taken the rare step of exposing the details of our secret negotiations for a summit between President Lee Myung-bak and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The revelations are crammed with sly expressions and sophistry defying the integrity of the North’s power apparatus.
North Korea broke a diplomatic taboo by disclosing what our government officials did to try to achieve the summit - apparently in an attempt to divert the international community’s attention away from attacks on our Cheonan warship and Yeonpyeong Island last year. As a result of the North’s new offensive, South-North relations will likely be further strained down the road.
There has always been a need for secret meetings between two Koreas because it is difficult to resolve through open contact complicated issues amid sharp political and military conflict. That’s why the content of cloak-and-dagger negotiations have traditionally been sealed even after talks have collapsed, considering the sensitivities involved. Now, the Lee administration will most likely have difficulty taking advantage of secret conversations with its counterpart from here on out.
Pyongyang’s revelation seems to contain several purposes. One is diluting the global hostility towards the North’s military provocations via extreme action. The North’s strange offensive could also help it avoid the current situation, in which it cannot have talks with the U.S. nor seek economic aid from outside without having dialogue with its southern counterpart first.
North Korea also seems to be attempting to shake the Lee administration’s hard-line stance toward it by intensifying the internal conflict between the conservative and liberal forces in South Korea to the extent that it would lead to a fissure in the traditional ties between Seoul and Washington.
The Lee administration should make efforts to avert the augmentation of internal divisions in our society as well as cope with the North’s actions as prudently as possible.
What Pyongyang should do now is to abandon its bellicosity towards Seoul and give up its nuclear ambition. That’s the only way to improve South-North relations and revive the North’s defunct economy. Now that North Korea had daringly disclosed even the behind-the-scenes negotiations by our officials, the government must refine its diplomatic skills with the North.