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[Editorial] Government Should Not Be Reluctant to Give Up Pyongyang Festival Visit

[Editorial] Government Should Not Be Reluctant to Give Up Pyongyang Festival Visit

Posted June. 03, 2005 06:56,   


North Korea unilaterally ordered the South Korean government to significantly scale down the size of the visiting group that will participate in the Pyongyang Festivity commemorating the fifth anniversary of the June 15 Joint Declaration. It demanded the South reduce the number of government and civil representatives from 70 to 30 and 615 to 190, respectively. This is a clear violation of the agreement. The government should demand an explanation from the North and review the visit to the North itself if it does not give a reasonable explanation.

Although North Korea suggested a new barrier to the visit was formed due to pressure from the U.S. pressure on it as a reason for scaling down the visiting group, that reason is illogical. If there is any truth in North Korea’s favorite “national cooperation” assertion, isn’t it correct to have more South Koreans participate in the Pyongyang festivities? In other words, Pyongyang revealed that this event is also being used as a propaganda measure yet again.

It was reported that the government is confused by the North’s demand, which also is not understandable. Why be confused? Is it because some can go while others cannot because the size of the visiting group was reduced? If the North broke its promise, the government only has to hold the North responsible and not go. The Pyongyang Festival is an event trying to display a scene of anti-American pressure to renounce its nuclear programs by entangling the South under the flag of “national cooperation.” Pyongyang is the one who should be thankful for South Korea’s participation in such a scheme.

Even without this event, there is incessant criticism that the government “traded the provision of 200,000 tons of fertilizer and the participation of government representatives in the Pyongyang Festival at the inter-Korea deputy-ministerial talks last month.” Then it is not at all bad to show the government’s firm attitude of notifying the North that it would be impossible to visit Pyongyang in order to bring about a true amelioration in the inter-Korea relations.

In the first place, there were a lot of risks and burdens in sending government representatives to the Pyongyang Festival. If someone makes an abrupt statement in the middle of the festivity event, the ministerial conference to be held after few days from the event certainly would have been negatively influenced. Many point out that the government is paying attention only to inter-Korea cooperation and not Korea-U.S. cooperation even though there is no sign of a resolution to the North Korean nuclear crisis. What is important now is not the Pyongyang Festival but preparing in earnest for the ministerial conference.