North Korea has cancelled a joint cultural performance with South Korea to be held in the North Korean territory of Mount Kumgang. The North Korean regime sent a notice in the middle of Monday night without any explanation or pledge. Seoul only said Pyongyang’s decision was “regrettable” and Pyongyang should uphold the agreement. The Moon Jae-in administration was hung up Tuesday on the delayed announcement of the joint training at North Korea’s Masikryong ski resort, which was to start Wednesday. South Korea is helpless in front of North Korea’s typical tactic to tame the South with its participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Games.
This is the second time that North Korea has reversed what was agreed upon after arbitrarily cancelling and resuming the visit of Hyon Song Wol’s delegation. North Korea cited insulting media coverage of South Korea on its military parade to be held on February 8 in Pyongyang as a reason of cancelling the performance. North Korea plans to hold a military parade to threaten the world with its nuclear missiles a day before the Winter Olympics open in South Korea. The Kim Jong Un regime cancelled off the Mount Kumgang performance as if the joint performance was an act of kindness, and insists that South Korean media insulted its “internal celebrations.”
North Korea is most likely to behave arbitrarily until the close of the Olympic Games. It might cancel the performance in Gangneung and Seoul and even its participation in the PyeongChang Olympics. It is a cheap ploy to get what they want by baffling Seoul, which at the same time reveals how pitiful they are to the whole world. But old habits die hard. The rogue regime might have thought of sounding out U.S. President Donald Trump’s North Korea policy before the State of the Union address only to fan the anti-Pyongyang sentiment in the United States.
The South Korean government is pushed around by the North. It is worried that North Korea would cancel the joint training at the ski resort as easily as the joint performance. Seoul does not even protest against the regime’s unruly behavior, being obsessed with the idea of holding “Olympics for peace” in a reconciliatory atmosphere. In fact, the cancellation might play out for the better as the South plans to carry diesel for electricity generation all the way to the North for the joint performance despite the controversy over violating sanctions against North Korea. And so is the joint training at the ski resort.
It is understandable that the South Korean government is concerned about holding the Olympics amid escalated tensions between the two Koreas triggered by Pyongyang’s rash behavior. However, Seoul might as well reflect whether it has encouraged North Korea to act indiscreetly by being a pushover.