Open door policy

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Open door policy

Seoul responded coolly to Pyongyang’s latest proposal for military talks. North Korea on Friday sent a letter suggesting military talks and impatiently wired another one on the following day through the military line it unilaterally shut down.

Seoul’s Defense Ministry flatly turned the offer down saying the heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula stemmed from North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, and that it won’t comply with further dialogue unless Pyongyang demonstrates will on denuclearization.

The public is again confounded and skeptical why North Korea suddenly wants to talk after all the saber-rattling and threat about nuclear attacks. North Korea in January conducted a nuclear test for the fourth time and launched a rocket to test long-distance ballistic missile technology.

The United Nations Security Council delivered toughest-yet resolution and sanctions on North Korea, but the country has not ceased military provocations. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un indicated that the state won’t give up nuclear program, pronouncing his country as a “responsible nuclear weapons state” during a rare Workers’ party Congress – the first in nearly four decades earlier this month.

The motive of suddenly proposing military talks now naturally would be questioned. The reconciliatory gesture falls in the typical behavioral pattern from Pyongyang. North Korea, an expert in brinkmanship, usually follows up with dialogue after intensifying tensions and provocations. It may want to stir up divide in the South as many have been frustrated with the deadlock relationship with North Korea,
It also may be aiming to shake up the international front on sanctions. Swiss and Russian authorities have announced tough sanctions freezing assets of North Koreans in their jurisdictions.

Pyongyang should think again if it thought it could use Seoul to buy time for further weapons development and seek breakthrough in economic sanctions through inter-Korean dialogue momentum.

The international society no longer buys Pyongyang’s tactics. The only solution has always been clearly prescribed. North Korea must give up nuclear and engage in inter-Korean talks with sincerity. Seoul must not let its guard down, but at the same time leave the options open for dialogue.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 24, Page 30

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