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Inter-Korean dialogue for a peaceful Korean Peninsula

Posted January. 04, 2018 08:51,   

Updated January. 04, 2018 09:38


North Korea reopened a communication channel with South Korea at the truce village of Panmunjom Tuesday. The border hotline restored in one year and eleven months after the Kaesong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean joint factory park, was shut down in February 2016. Ri Son Gwon, North Korean chairman of the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, quoted Kim Jong Un as being willing to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and welcoming the South’s overture after President Moon Jae-in proposed the participation of the North Korean delegation at the Games. Pyongyang did not say whether they will accept the high-level talks on Tuesday proposed by the South, but it appears that talks will be held whether it is high-level talks or working-level talks for the Olympic Games.

As North Korean young leader’s sudden proposal to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics is construed as an intention to weaken the alliance between South Korea and the United States, Washington’s response to the reopening of inter-Korean dialogues is noteworthy. “Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not – we will see!” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday. “My nuclear button is bigger, more powerful than Kim Jong Un’s,” responding to Kim’s threat saying that the United States should know that the nuclear button is on his desk at all times.

“If the two countries decide that they want to have talks, that would certainly be their choice,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert while cautioning the North might be trying to drive a wedge of some sort between South Korea and the United States. On the whole, there are more worries than welcome. And Washington has good reason to express concerns. However, the Trump administration sets a deadline of three months for resolving North Korea’s nuclear problem, with all options on the table including military measures against the North. Against this backdrop, Seoul offered Pyongyang’s participation in the Winter Olympics to make a breakthrough in easing tensions and paving the way for peace at all rates. After all, it is Korea, not America that turns into a battlefield in time of emergency.

Without doubt, our desire for peace doesn’t mean that we are willing to tolerate Kim Jong Un’s boasts of being a nuclear state and potential nuclear and missile threats. Therefore, if inter-Korean dialogue for the North’s participation in the upcoming Olympic Games is held, the North should neither further arouse concerns from the United States nor shake South Korea’s position by putting unreasonable political conditions such as suspension of the ROK-U.S joint military drills. Also, the Moon’s administration and the ruling party should not be far ahead to give too much meaning to the resumption of the communication channel and not undermine concerted efforts from the international community to push forward more sanctions and pressures on North Korea. Once the inter-Korean talks reopen, we should only concentrate on how the North Korean delegation can successfully participate in the PyeongChang Olympics.

Kim Jong Un’s extending the olive branch in his New Year’s address is perhaps because the regime’s nuclear force is now completed as he claims, but it also implies that the international community’s tougher-than-ever sanctions have almost chocked its economy off. At this time when sanctions against the North are showing signs of effect, we should not repeat the mistake as the report by the Unification Ministry’s panel, which revealed the former administration made a wrong decision to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, prompted a backlash from Washington. We should bear in mind that the North’s sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics could be a stepping stone to peace, but true peace on the Korean Peninsula is impossible without the complete denuclearization of North Korea.