Whatever Happened to North Korea?
While world powers met yesterday to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions, it seems that once-urgent efforts to curb North Korea's far advanced nuclear program have stalled and all but vanished from the news.
North Korea's abrupt cancellation Wednesday of a much-anticipated resumption of railroad service between the two countries provides some explanation, according to the country's online commentators. South Korea and Washington, they note, have very different approaches to the North Korean threat. Though both countries are committed to North Korea's containment, Seoul, located just 40 miles from the North Korean border, takes a softer line than Washington.
Last week, the Seoul daily Chosun Ilbo said U.S.-Korean relations followed a familiar pattern: "whenever its relationship with the U.S. becomes strained, North Korea mobilizes the inter-Korean channel with talk of 'one nation.'"
North Korea's apparent agreement to resume train service between the two countries for the first time in 55 years stirred hopes that the two countries might be inching toward reconciliation. The South Korean government had certainly struck a friendly tone in recent weeks. On May 9, President Roh Moo-Hyun offered "many concessions" and "substantial assistance" to North Korea. On May 22, the South Korea's unification minister expressed certainty that "a turning point for peace on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean relations will come within the year."
"That mating dance," said Chosun Ilbo, "gave the misleading impression that a steady confidential dialogue has been going on between the South and North."
The reality, say editors of the Joong Ang Daily, is that North Korea is manipulating the South in its efforts to obtain "even more economic support from the South" and that "repeated breaches of agreements by the North are in practice condoned" by South Korea's government.
"Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that the North may think it is fine to act as if it were the master of the South," they write.
The Yonhap News Agency notes that "South Korea provides tens of millions of dollars worth of aid and assistance every year to the impoverished North in the hope Pyongyang's increased dependence on Seoul would help bring the reclusive state into the international community and back to negotiations over its nuclear arms program."
"Although South Korea was determined to take the lead in the stalled nuclear talks by activating more inter-Korean projects," said the Korea Herald, "the effort is likely to be overshadowed due to this incident."
Meanwhile, the chief U.S. negotiator, Christopher Hill, arrived in Beijing yesterday to talk with Chinese officials about how to get the six-party talks going again. According to Xinhua news agency, Hill said Washington will not offer North Korea any economic incentive to resume negotiations.
With its two chief adversaries, South Korea and the United States, taking such different approaches, North Korea can afford to wait.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: DavidP | May 25, 2006 10:11 AM
Posted by: Karim | May 25, 2006 10:43 AM
Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 25, 2006 10:59 AM
Posted by: Chip Smith | May 25, 2006 11:45 AM
Posted by: jvd70 | May 25, 2006 12:28 PM
Posted by: Tom T. | May 25, 2006 01:28 PM
Posted by: David George Ferguson | May 25, 2006 01:37 PM
Posted by: P. J. Casey | May 25, 2006 02:31 PM
Posted by: Paul | May 25, 2006 02:45 PM
Posted by: jvd70 | May 25, 2006 03:21 PM
Posted by: Mike Brooks | May 25, 2006 03:34 PM
Posted by: Duck | May 25, 2006 04:02 PM
Posted by: Andy | May 25, 2006 04:12 PM
Posted by: Mike Brooks | May 25, 2006 04:19 PM
Posted by: Karim | May 25, 2006 11:48 PM
Posted by: Karim | May 25, 2006 11:59 PM
Posted by: | May 26, 2006 11:40 AM
Posted by: jvd70 | May 26, 2006 10:12 PM
Posted by: OD | May 27, 2006 05:42 PM
Posted by: CE | May 31, 2006 01:21 PM
Posted by: Mark Rosenkranz | June 1, 2006 01:00 AM
Posted by: Mark Rosenkranz | June 1, 2006 01:02 AM
Posted by: Mark Rosenkranz | June 5, 2006 03:18 AM
Posted by: insurance auto | June 8, 2006 09:27 AM
Posted by: alex | August 11, 2006 11:18 AM
Posted by: kori | August 11, 2006 09:04 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.