National Unification Advisory Council Executive Vice-Chair Jung Se-hyun said in a meeting with Unification Minister Lee In-young on Wednesday, “As the issue of leaflet campaigns has been cleared away, it is no different than providing some cause to North Korea so that it can come forward to talk to the South,” adding that North Korea should respond next year. Minister Lee showed his expectations about next year’s inter-Korean relations, saying that Pyongyang may possibly take a more positive and favorable approach.
Jung’s remarks only make it clear that the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act was revised to prohibit sending propaganda leaflets to the North probably following the threat and order by Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It may be the most absurd mentioning that can be made by a leader of the presidential unification policy advisory agency established and run under the Constitution. However, it is a typical example of how pro-government officials view North Korea. Previously, Jung even maintained that police and military forces should be mobilized to fly propaganda leaflets toward the North.
Moreover, it is a big mistake if he expects the North to take action equivalent to Seoul’s amicable attitude. Jung went even further by saying that the R.O.K.-U.S. joint military drills scheduled between February and March should be suspended or reduced in scale so that Pyongyang can come back to dialogue. In response, Unification Minister Lee almost welcomed his idea, saying, “We should use our wisdom to prevent the joint drills from causing dispute. With no risk of being offended by propaganda flyers that may incite North Korean residents to confusion; and no worries about military threats from the South, the North Korean regime will only feel safe and furthermore confident, puffed up with the upper hand that it thinks it has in the inter-Korean relations.
As such, South Korea is driving itself into self-made delusion without knowing that the international community increases criticism. The nation’s ruling party was mocked as an “illiberal party” in the U.S. Congress. Nevertheless, the South Korean government naively believes that it can improve its relations with the North and bridge Washington and Pyongyang. It does make no sense if the Joe Biden administration asks Seoul to do the job as it is sneered by Pyongyang while the international community loses trust in it.