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[Editorial] Kim Dae-jung’s Visit North

Posted June. 20, 2006 03:00,   


North Korea is threatening the world as it is poised to test-fire its Taepodong-2 missile. After finishing preparation, the country is reportedly waiting for the right time to launch its missile. Against this backdrop, the U.S. and Japan will hold a summit meeting in Washington on June 29 and announce that in case North Korea does fire its missile, it will be considered a provocation against the international community and will be followed by strong response. Given this situation, it is desirable that former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung reconsider visiting the North, because we might end up playing into the North’s hands, thereby hampering a joint response from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan.

Kim was originally scheduled to visit North Korea on June 27 but has not received any concrete answer from the country regarding detailed plans. It is rather a relief that the visit has not been set considering current developments surrounding North Korea. North Korea is repeatedly breaking its promises and is demonstrating behaviors of a chronically “rogue state” often threatening the security of the region with missiles.

Kim must be thinking about persuading the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to return to the six party talks and agree to giving up the country’s nuclear program in exchange for normalization of relations with the U.S. and economic assistance. However, there is a real slim chance of succeeding in that endeavor since what Kim Jong Il wants is to have direct talks with the U.S. and gain as much as possible through “brinkmanship”.

In the worst-case scenario, North Korea might use Kim to drive a wedge between South Korea and the U.S. by stressing unity between the two Koreas while denouncing the U.S. as an imperialist. Even if that is not the case, we must consider what the U.S. and Japan will think if Kim fails to achieve his goal of persuading the North.

Already, the South Korean government, at heart, is not agreeing to the aggressive response of the U.S. and Japan afraid of damaging inter-Korean relations. Some government officials are even making preposterous claims that the Taepodong missile is not a new threat to South Korea since we are already within the range of North Korea’s long-range artillery. It is just embarrassing. What is Kim going to do when the government is holding such view? Now is the time when either of them should restrain themselves.