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[Editorial] Transparent and straightforward N.K. policies!

[Editorial] Transparent and straightforward N.K. policies!

Posted November. 09, 2000 20:56,   


The government and South Korean Red Cross Society president Chang Choong-Sik have hardly shown a transparent and dignified response to North Korea's recent quarrel over Seoul's Red Cross president. It should be pointed out at this point that we can conduct our North Korea policies with strength and force only when they are buttressed by the people's support. This was the reason that we have repeatedly emphasized the importance of transparency in our North Korea policies. If there is any ground for unnecessary suspicions, it will be hard to win the people's consensus and support for the policies.

What North Korea quarreled about was simply a matter of Pyongyang's sheer misunderstanding. In fear of possible adverse effects on inter-Korean relations, however, Chang apparently conveyed his regret to the North, but he did so secretly. Any regrets, if they were deemed due, must have been expressed openly in a straightforward manner. Worse still, the administration at first lied about Chang's letter of apology being sent to Pyongyang, as well as the North's flat rejection of Chang's apology. Afterward, the Ministry of Unification belatedly had to admit that Chang's letter of apology was in fact conveyed to Pyongyang. This being the case, who is going to trust the government and its officials anymore? It is indeed deplorable, and we suspect that this may be the world's only nation with such dishonest high-ranking officials.

Pyongyang raised issue with Chang's interview he had with a monthly magazine in Seoul. The North quarrels about Chang's statements regarding the lack of freedom in North Korea as compared to South Korea and North Koreans having not enough clothes with only one suit to wear. Apparently, the North took these statements as depreciatory remarks against it. The overall contents of his interview, however, reflect Chang's call for the people in the South to show their warmth and understanding toward their northern compatriots. It is not right that Pyongyang makes issue with the partial content of Chang's interview without taking its overall meaning. Furthermore, we are rather suspicious about North Korea's possible other motives for belatedly raising the issue now, though the monthly was published some two and a half months ago on Sept. 20.

Admittedly, Chang's remarks about North Korea were somewhat indiscreet in view of the fact that he is in charge of healing the pains of many separated families. He should have remembered the fact that many government officials who have been to North Korea had to encounter difficulties due to such indiscreet statements they made about North Korean society. Chang must have critical self-examination skills and a special sense of vocation so as to refrain from making any controversial remarks: he should know he is a public figure who maintains direct contacts and negotiations with the North.

Whatever the case, it is apparent that the contents of Chang's interview should in no way weigh as important as to adversely affect the inter-Korean agreement on the reunion of the separated families. The scheduled family reunions and exchange of letters must be carried out as agreed at the inter-Korean Red Cross talks to implement the inter-Korean summit agreements.

The schedules for the second round of family reunions are somewhat delayed, but the list of family members are to be exchanged today to make the reunions possible at the end of this month. The subsequent events as agreed between the South and the North to accomplish before the end of this year include the third round of family reunions and exchange of letters as well as the third Red Cross talks and the establishment of reunion centers. Both the South and the North should display an authentic and transparent attitude in carrying out their agreed schedules so as to heal the pains of separated family members.