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[Editorial] Will the South-North Talk Go on like This?

Posted September. 19, 2001 08:49,   


To speak conclusion first, the fifth South-North ministerial talk, which ended yesterday, fell short of our expectation. Of course, it is meaningful that the South-North dialogue channel, which has been blocked, was reopened in 9 months through this talk. However, if we look at the joint statement, it is disappointing because it is either repetition of the already agreed item between the South and North or a vague statement.

The case of the exchange of the separated family during October, which is regarded as the best outcome of the ministerial talk, is one example. There have been already three exchange visits of the separated families since the 6.15 last year. Hence, it was expected that the two would agree on the establishment of the meeting place. Since the first generation of the separate families is rapidly decreasing, we cannot but ask until when the North would deal with this issue as one-time event as if it gives a favor to the South.

The third article of the joint statement includes the connection of the Gyoungi rail line and the Munsan-Gaesung highway, the activation of the Gaesung Industrial Complex and the Mt. Geumgang trip, four agreements on the economic cooperation, and the prevention of floods in Yimjin River. However, statement writes that `the South and North will examine, discuss, and resolve`. What we have expected from this talk was to see the concrete and visible outcomes among these issues, but not such a vague statement.

For instance, the construction of the reconnection of the Gyoungi rail line in the demilitarized zone was already agreed at the South-North military talk in February. The North stopped the construction work afterwards. However, the joint statement writes that the construction work will begin after the military security agreement is signed and come into effective. It is still possible that the North would control the schedule of the construction work in the future. The South and North decided to hold a `government talk` in the early October regarding the issue of activation of Mt. Guemgang trip including the land route trip. Then, it is wondering when the two will begin the discussion on the military issue which is the key point in the opening of the land route trip.

Ministry of Unification evaluated the ministerial talk saying that it has provided the foundation for the progress of the South-North relationship by agreeing to hold various lower-level meetings. However, some people ask whether the two have decided to discuss the issue of assisting food and electric power, which was requested by the North, at the second South-North economic cooperation committee, instead of deciding the schedule for the sixth ministerial talk as well as the exchange of the separated families. If this is true, we want to ask our government until when our government will continue the South-North dialogue, which is `bought with money`.

Since the South and North agreed to hold various meetings in October, we urge the North to show more sincere attitude.