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[Editorial] Communication between Mt. Halla and Mt. Baekdu

[Editorial] Communication between Mt. Halla and Mt. Baekdu

Posted June. 14, 2004 22:58,   


For the first time after the 1953 armistice, South and North Korean naval vessels have communicated with each other in the West Sea, around the NLL (Northern Limit Line). The South’s naval vessel started the dialogue with “Here is Mt. Halla,” and the North Korean vessels replied, “Here is Mt. Baekdu.” It was the historic moment when South and North Korea’s promise – to prevent accidental clashes in the West Sea – was put into action. Although only a handful of South and North Korean soldiers participated in this “operation,” it gave hope to the whole Korean nation that bloodshed clashes could be avoided by dialogues.

Starting today, both Koreas will stop slandering and propagandizing against each other in the military demarcation line, and tomorrow they will start removing objects meant for propaganda. The sea, which staged two battles, one in 1999 the other in 2000, converted into a “stage of communication” and the confrontation area where the military power of both countries is concentrated became the ironic place where both sides renounced acts to provoke each other. It is not a coincidence that today is also the fourth anniversary of the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration.

Four years ago, the summit meeting between South and North Korea was a big step forward for reconciliation. After the summit meeting, many changes took place in the South-North Korea relations but they are not as impressive as that day. Although human and material interchange increased and presents the possibility of peaceful coexistence, it is well short of surpassing the symbolism shown by the reconciliatory handshake between the two heads of states.

Despite all the changes, we still long for more because both South and North Korea are still not completely open to each other. For example, North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-il did not visit Seoul as he promised in the Joint Declaration. In order for the South-North relations to improve, it is imperative to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis that is blocking a second summit meeting. Former President Kim Dae-jung decided to visit Pyongyang, despite various hardships, hence Chairman Kim should also be determined to renounce North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and keep the promise to visit Seoul.

The changes achieved by the South and North Korean military should be an opportunity for a second leap forward. Peace in the Korean Peninsula will be accomplished in less time if small reconciliation is done at a working level and large reconciliation at the head level are achieved simultaneously. We hope that ‘communication between Mt. Halla and Mt. Baekdu’ will extend to the core of the South and North Korean military as well as to the leadership in Seoul and Pyongyang.