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[Editorial] Absurd Promises to North Korea

Posted November. 23, 2007 04:01,   


The lame duck Roh administration is making bolder promises to North Korea. It recently agreed on 49 economic cooperation business proposals to the North without finding any way to finance them, and it reported its “Basic Plan for the Development of the Relationship between South and North Korea” to the National Assembly on Thursday, which is supposed to be carried out by the next administration. In other words, the current administration is forcing its successor to implement the promises they are making to North Korea. This is absurd.

It is questionable whether the administration really understands the North’s fallacious propaganda about economic cooperation. According to Good Neighbors, a human rights organization, North Korean officials have explained to the people that the North decided to work together with the South to build a shipbuilding yard in Anbyon and a shipbuilding industrial complex in Nampo because the South Korean shipbuilding business is on the brink of collapsing. That is a downright lie. South Korean shipbuilding companies are world class in revenues, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s No.1 shipbuilder, accounts for a quarter of the world shipbuilding market.

The administration is naïve to think that an increase in inter-Korean economic cooperation and support will force North Korea to open its markets. The more important thing is to change the North’s perspective regarding cooperative projects. The South should make the North show a level of decency in return for what it has received. At the same time, the South should make the North understand that economic cooperation will be offered on market principles in the long run. The South cannot continue one-sided support forever.

The Ministry of Unification announced that it prepared a five-year plan based on “The Act On the Development of the Relationship between South and North Korea” yesterday, but the plan makes little sense. And why weren’t the summit agreement and the ministerial agreement, which will impose a heavy financial burden on citizens, subject to the ratification by the National Assembly?

A huge change in the policies related to North Korea is expected in the next administration. Presidential frontrunners Lee Myung-bak and Lee Hoi-chang’s policy proposals are quite different from the current ones.

Proposing numerous projects with the North at this point in time is irresponsible. The current administration may want to leave a legacy behind, but its decisions may distort the relationship between the two Koreas.