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[Editorial] One-Sided Rice Aid Is Not Acceptable

Posted October. 14, 2001 08:53,   


The North Korea authority cancelled the exchange of separated families a couple of days ago, and at the same time proposed to hold the 2nd inter-Korea authority meeting at Mt. Keumgang on 19th as planned. We are unable to repress our indignation on the North Korea`s arbitrariness that selects the inter-Korean issues at its own right.

As of now, the inter-Korea meeting at Mt. Keumgang is unlikely to bring about certain positive outcomes. Such a unfavorable forecast is reasonable when considering the facts that the North Korea newly raised an issue of delayed payment of the tourism cost of 24 million dollars, and the 1st inter-Korea meeting at Mt. Keumgang ended fruitless. As long as the South government does not guarantee the payment of the total tourism cost amounting to 9,420 billion dollars, it will be hard even to begin the military working-level meeting which is the necessary step to establish the overland tourism route.

The government might as well admit the NK`s rationale for canceling the reunion of the separated families as accept the North`s offer to hold the second inter-Korea meeting at Mt. Keumgang, the government acknowledge. The NK`s rationale for canceling the exchange of the separated families was that the South Korea was not safe. In the same vein, the NK authority maintained to hold the meeting at Mt. Keumgang which is safe. The government revealed its reluctant position toward the Keumgangsan meeting, but it was not enough. The government ought to express its firm positions including the boycott of this meeting.

However, it is so disappointing the way in which President Kim Dae-Jung and the New Millennium Democratic Party (NMDP). President Kim repeated his prolonged position on the engagement policy by saying that there was no alternative other than the `sunshine` policy in spite of the recurring pains and bottlenecks in the South and North relation. NMDP Spokesperson Jeon Yong-Hak also said that the government would keep the comprehensive mutualism, and it was not appropriate to directly link the reunion project of separated families and the rice aid issue.

It would be natural to ask how the government repeat such a general principle over and over under the situation needed to express much more determined positions toward the arbitrary North Korea authority.

And Spokesperson Jeon said that the government would synthetically review the rice aid issue from the humanitarian perspective and the agricultural policy perspective for the efficient management of the surplus rice in the nation. However, his remark was also ill-timed. Even though it is necessary to control the surplus rice, it is not a proper reason for rice aid because the North Korean side will not for sure appreciate such a philanthropy.

No more one-sided rice aid is accepted. If the government gives the rice by the logics of `comprehensive mutualism` and `charity first, profit second`, the national sentiment will become more worsened.