It seems that a World Cup qualifier between the South and the North, which will take place in Pyongyang on next Tuesday, will not be live broadcast the reason being that North Korea does not look eager. It is not engaging in discussions for the live broadcast and demanded ridiculously high broadcast rights fees in a talk mediated by a Japanese intermediary. Separately, the South Korean government has been proposing a joint disease control since May to contain African Swine Fever, but North Korea is ignoring it.
It was only a year ago when the inter-Korean ties warmed amid various exchanges, but everything has come to “a halt” after the Hanoi talks between the United States and the North broke down on Feb. 28. Pyongyang, which stopped all the inter-Korean exchanges, is now criticizing Seoul for holding joint military exercises with the United States and introducing weapons. The North is also refusing to accept food aid provided through the World Food Program. Early this year, the South offered to provide Tamiflu, a medicine for treatment of flu, only to be ignored.
The Inter-Korean Liaison Office in Kaesong has been effectively closed as well. The South Korean government suggested a joint investigation and disease control after it was confirmed that African Swine Fever broke out in North Korea in May. The North said it will come back after reporting it but has not. Some experts claim that ASF might have spread to the South as a result of a North Korean military unit in the border area dumping infected pigs into the river. However, there still has been no response from the North. A normal government would be proactive in containing the disease from spreading to its neighboring countries, but common sense courtesy that cannot be expected from North Korea. The excitement is building up over the first “South vs North football match” in 29 years, but the audience will have to wait until recorded footage of the game is released unless North Korea changes its mind.
This is hardly the first time that Pyongyang troubled Seoul and used the inter-Korean relations when things do not go well with Washington. The takeaways from the current situation are: North Korea emphasized the importance of the warming of the inter-Korean ties only to use it as a leverage in negotiations with the United States, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “ending the hunger of its people” was nothing more than rhetoric. North Korea should realize that the trauma of its people and the risk of an uprising will only grow deeper and faster if it continues to seek self-sufficiency and keeps its doors closed to the South.