Pyongyang must prove itself with concrete actionsNorth Korea again offered an olive branch to South Korea last month. It abruptly made a proposal to resume the reunions of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War. After Seoul sent a counterproposal to fix the reunions for sometime in February, Pyongyang still drags its feet without specifying a date.
We must not forget that the two-faced North has so far implemented both a peace and provocation strategy at the same time to get what it wants. At the Seoul World Cup in 2002, when football mania was sweeping South Korea, the North suddenly opened fire on our patrol boats for no reason, only two years after the first inter-Korean summit talks were held in 2000.
The late Park Wang-ja, a South Korean tourist who participated in a Mount Kumgang tour, was shot to death by a North Korean soldier in 2008, not long after the North destroyed the cooling tower in Yongbyon to show its willingness to renounce the use of nuclear weapons.
The North even went so far as to carry out a torpedo attack on our Cheonan warship and shell Yeonpyeong Island. After that, the bellicose regime has stepped up its threatening messages and relied on cyberwarfare such as DDoS attacks and GPS electromagnetic wave disruptions, not to mention an attempt to nullify the armistice agreement.
From a humanitarian viewpoint, the family reunions should be held no matter what. But it would be too naive to believe that the treacherous North’s recent peace offensive is a sincere message for harmony on the Korea Peninsula.
The government must first demand the North give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
The North thinks that mending ties with Seoul will work to their advantage. But it must know that without a sincere promise to prevent a recurrence of military provocations and an apology for its earlier attacks, no mutual trust can be formed between the two Koreas. Pyongyang must prove its sincerity with concrete actions and will.
By Yun Joo-seong A student at Chungnam National University