Regular meetings a must
President Park Geun-hye proposed to regularize inter-Korean dialogue during a senior secretariat meeting recently. She said the inter-Korean talks should not be sporadic, but held often to pave the way for peaceful union. The two Koreas have agreed to hold high-level talks in late October or early November, even though we don’t know what might happen before then. Yet the president sees enough hope to propose a regular inter-Korean dialogue after the surprise visit by top brass from North Korea over the weekend.
The last-minute guests to the Incheon Asian Games closing ceremony included Hwang Pyong-so, and Choe Ryong-hae, the second and third ranked members of the North’s powerful military after paramount leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Yang-gon, the party official in charge of South Korean affairs, also attended. It is unprecedented for Pyongyang to send such high-level officials who have a say in both the conflict and dialogue with South Korea. The renewed expectations and enthusiasm in Seoul for improved ties are understandable.
The political sector is eager. The ruling and opposition parties together called for the momentum toward a dramatic breakthrough not to be wasted. The unprecedented surprise visit by high-ranking officials has raised expectations in both the government and the political sector for a turning point.
The president’s idea to regularize dialogue could be the best way to keep up the reconciliatory mood. The two Koreas must return to the basics of dialogue and both must be open-minded. Blaming one another won’t take the conversation anywhere. Both sides must be willing to listen. They must try to work off of small and practical improvements, then move on to bigger ones. Give and take is the key to negotiating.
Most of all, both sides must exercise patience and constraint. Dialogue cannot work while criticism and inflammatory rhetoric prevail. Both sides must try their best not to provoke one another. North Korea must stop unnecessary provocations through missile tests.
North Korea’s cooperation is essential to building mutual trust and working toward a lasting framework for peace. North Korea needs South Korea’s help to solve its economic problems and end its international isolation. The world’s eyes are on the Korean Peninsula. From nuclear ambitions to unification, nothing can be done through our will and efforts alone. But we cannot be swayed by the interests of global powers. The two Koreas must solve inter-Korean issues through constant dialogue.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 7, Page 30