Forget the singers, focus on nukes

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Forget the singers, focus on nukes

South Korean singers’ voices rang once again in Pyongyang after 13 years. A group of singers ranging from aging rockers to K-pop stars hit the stage at the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre and entertained thousands of North Koreans on Sunday. We hope that the theme of the performance, “Spring Comes,” is echoed by thawing relations between the South and North.

But we have mixed feelings. The Moon Jae-in administration is reportedly considering a live broadcast of the April 27 inter-Korean summit at Panmunjom and hosting a luncheon with the two leaders’ wives. The administration plans to set up a 2,000-seat hall at the Korea International Exhibition and Convention Center in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, to offer domestic audiences live coverage of the event. We understand the Moon administration’s desire to promote the historic summit. But it must listen to criticism that it is bent on propagandizing an event that won’t even have the denuclearization of North Korea on the agenda.

The international community is ratcheting up pressure on South Korea to keep up its effort on the joint sanctions front. Shortly after Seoul and Pyongyang announced the date for the inter-Korean summit, U.S. President Donald Trump mentioned the possibility of delaying a revision to the free trade deal with South Korea. It was a warning that Seoul will pay a big price if it ignores Washington’s hard-line stance, which demands a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

But a top Blue House official said that the Libyan solution — scrapping nuclear weapons first and giving compensation later — will not work with North Korea. Does that represent a drastic switch from “cutting the Gordian knot” to an incremental resolution of the problem, as mentioned by the North’s leader Kim Jong-un during his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping? We are deeply concerned about the possibility of the Moon administration taking steps that are incompatible with the United States’ position.

Despite Moon’s diplomatic breakthrough, uncertainties are growing over the fate of the Korean Peninsula after the appointment of hawks to key positions in the U.S. government and Kim’s summit with Xi. Kim is also expected to visit Russia to bring it to its side.

President Moon must cement the Korea-U.S. alliance by making denuclearization and communication his top priority.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, Page 30
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