For peace on the Penin­sula

The ab­sence of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il from the coun­try's 60th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions cre­ated spec­u­la­tion among many ROK me­dia out­lets, which be­gan float­ing the idea of a "DPRK col­lapse".

The Pak Banker - - Editorial - Piao Jianyi

This year has a spe­cial mean­ing for peo­ple in the Demo­cratic Peo­ple's Re­pub­lic of Korea (DPRK) and the Re­pub­lic of Korea (ROK). With ex­changes of fire and the harsh re­ac­tions of the two sides, the Korean Penin­sula wit­nessed the deep­est cri­sis this year since guns fell silent 57 years ago.

In a sense, this is a side ef­fect of the pol­icy adopted by ROK Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak who, af­ter tak­ing of­fice in 2008, as­sumed that the DPRK would never give up its nu­clear pro­gram. So his ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan tak­ing mea­sures to worsen the DPRK econ­omy. The ab­sence of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il from the coun­try's 60th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions cre­ated spec­u­la­tion among many ROK me­dia out­lets, which be­gan float­ing the idea of a "DPRK col­lapse". There were even dis­cus­sions in the me­dia about how to "take over the DPRK" af­ter the "col­lapse".

Sev­eral in­ter­na­tional ex­perts say the "DPRK col­lapse" the­ory be­trays the Sept 19 Joint State­ment (of the Six-Party Talks in 2005). In a way, it de­nies that the Korean Penin­sula is­sue, in­clud­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, can be re­solved through co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion.

That has had an ex­tremely neg­a­tive ef­fect on ef­forts to change the sit­u­a­tion on the Penin­sula, es­pe­cially on the Six­Party Talks.

Some ROK of­fi­cials even said the term "de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula" was mean­ing- less when the DPRK was on the brink of a "col­lapse".

Even the United States gave the Sept 19 Joint State­ment a silent burial, wait­ing in­stead for the DPRK to "col­lapse". For a long time, there was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the DPRK and the US. The US didn't re­al­ize its mis­take un­til the DPRK con­ducted a nu­clear test in May 2009. Only af­ter that (in Fe­bru­ary 2010), did the US send its co­or­di­na­tor to Py­ongyang.

But the Cheo­nan in­ci­dent put an end to the ef­forts of re­sum­ing di­a­logues. Be­cause there has been no in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the US and the ROK, and the DPRK, it is dif­fi­cult to say which of three cre­ated the mis­un­der­stand­ing.

Hon­estly speak­ing, there is no solid ev­i­dence to prove that the se­lec­tion of the next DPRK leader led to the ex­change of fire near the western mar­itime border of the Korean Penin­sula on Nov 23. Con­trary to what the ROK, the US and their al­lies be­lieve, many Chi­nese ex­perts say the DPRK did not hope to gain mil­i­tary points from the ex­change of fire, be­cause its most press­ing con­cern now is eco­nomic devel­op­ment and im­prove­ment of its peo­ple's liv­ing stan­dards.

Facts show that nei­ther USROK mil­i­tary drills nor eco­nomic sanc­tions have helped ease ten­sions on the Penin­sula. Only di­a­logues, based on equal­ity, be­tween the op­pos­ing sides can do that and help re­solve the Korean is­sue.

With­out doubt, di­rect talks be­tween the DPRK and the ROK would be the most ef­fec­tive way of re­solv­ing the is­sue. But that's not pos­si­ble to­day, be­cause the ROK has cho­sen to ex­change opin­ions with the US and Ja­pan first, while the DPRK is re­luc­tant to hold oneon-one talks with any of the three. So the best choice now is to hold "free talks" among the six sides (which also in­clude China, the US, Ja­pan and Rus­sia) and take mea­sures to re­sume the Six-Party Talks as soon as pos­si­ble. And since the ROK has ig­nored China's sug­ges­tion of hold­ing a "free di­a­logue", it could con­sider hold­ing "a vicem­i­nis­te­rial level emer­gency con­fer­ence" in­stead.

But no mat­ter what the DPRK and the ROK do, they should exer- cise ut­most self-re­straint. Given that there is no in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the DPRK and the ROK now, provoca­tive words or ac­tions will cre­ate fur­ther mis­un­der­stand­ings and de­te­ri­o­rate the sit­u­a­tion. That's why it is nec­es­sary for the two sides to re­sume mil­i­tary in­ter­ac­tion and ex­change key in­for­ma­tion.

Hav­ing lived in mil­i­tary ten­sion for more than half a cen­tury, peo­ple on the Korean Penin­sula need peace and pros­per­ity, which they can be as­sured of only if the Six-Party Talks are re­vived soon.

The ROK has to stop be­liev­ing in the "DPRK col­lapse" the­ory. No re­spon­si­ble govern­ment can turn a blind eye to the im­por­tance of a sta­ble and de­vel­op­ing DPRK. It has to give up its imag­i­nary pol­icy of "an­nex­ing DPRK", too, and re­turn to the talks for equal di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion.

The DPRK, on its part, should take more ac­tive part in the eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties of East Asia, co­op­er­ate more closely with its neigh­bors and take steps to im­prove the liv­ing stan­dards of its peo­ple.

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