We need to talk

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We need to talk

The government has proposed dialogue with North Korea. In a statement yesterday, Ryoo Kihl-jae, unification minister, asked North Korea to come to the negotiation table to discuss the issues North Korea raises, stressing the importance of normalization of the closed Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Though he didn’t specify the exact time and place for the dialogue, the minister officially urged Pyongyang to return to talks to peacefully resolve the closure of the industrial park.

We hope Pyongyang shows a positive response to Seoul’s offer in an effort to address the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Minister Ryoo has expressed the hope that North Korea will immediately stop its belligerent moves and act as a responsible member of the international community, while demanding that the North stop endangering peace on the peninsula.

We understand the government’s concern about the proposal because it could be seen as our surrender to the North’s threats and at the same time it could also send the wrong message to the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang.

And we welcome the government’s decision to kick off a dialogue with North Korea, as prolonging the volatile situation is not desirable for both sides.

Now it is Pyongyang’s turn to answer Seoul’s offer. North Korea is dithering over whether to fire a mid-range missile already deployed on the east coast. We also understand the North’s agony, as it would be a disgrace to back down from all the threats it has made so far. Under such circumstances, our government offered Pyongyang a reasonable exit from the quandary. North Korea should take the opportunity to escape from the dilemma.

The international community’s eyes are fixed on the developments on the peninsula as seen by the influx of war correspondents from around the world. A vicious cycle of overblown reports inviting more exaggerated reports has begun.

If a wrong step leads to war, it is us Koreans who suffer from it. North Korea must stop all the belligerent talk and actions and come to the negotiation table immediately.

If the Kaesong complex - the last-remaining vestige of inter-Korean cooperation - shuts down completely, both Koreas will suffer.

Shortly after the statement, Ryoo toned down his proposal for dialogue a bit by defining it as a “reaffirmation of our dialogue principle” rather than an appeasement gesture. We fully understand our government’s position as well. But once it has proposed a meeting, it must aggressively press ahead with it rather than taking a passive stance with the naive belief that the ball is in the North’s court now. We urge Pyongyang to make a rational judgment about Seoul’s proposal.
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