North Korea must change
There is no quick solution to North Korea’s hostile policy toward South Korea. The North’s provocations have repeated over and over.
To end the vicious cycle of hostility, there should be internal changes in North Korea.
The Seoul government should take new future directions of polices toward North Korea after thoroughly analyzing the present situations of the world’s last Stalinist country.
North Korea has been suffering from a severe food shortage. This led to more deaths by starvation. In this situation, urgent humanitarian assistance is necessary for North Koreans.
From the political and diplomatic point of view, however, unconditional support is not appropriate. Unconditional support for the North has caused damage to South Korea.
Despite South Korea’s provision of aid to the communist nation, Pyongyang has not made good o its promises since the early 1990s. Some people criticized that the South had played into the hands of the North under the leadership of former liberal Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
North Korea has refused international monitoring designed to check if the humanitarian aid was diverted for military use.
This reflects the nature of a closed society. South Koreans are doubtful if aid supplies were properly delivered to starving North Koreans.
How about the effect of the conditional support? The South Korean government is prodding North Korea to move toward denuclearization.
Regrettably the North shelled the South’s Yeonpyeong near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea in November 2010.
The dialogue between Seoul and Pyongyang was suspended because of the North’s provocation. Nucleus weapons appear to be the only means for the North to survive.
In this regard, Pyongyang does not seem to take the path of denuclearization.
At this point, inter-Korean relations have never been worse than ever. The Seoul government’s hard-line stance against the North has also contributed to shaking things up.
Economic cooperation and exchanges have been delayed by the political and military standoff over the North's nuclear weapons.
The South’s humanitarian assistance to the North was remarkably reduced. Even the Korea has strengthened ties with China not S. Korea. This shows the blind spot of conditional policies toward the North.
Policies toward N. Korea need to be changed, considering both conditional and unconditional support. First of all, Seoul needs to see humanitarian aid apart from political logics.
The Seoul government needs to continue humanitarian assistance to the North. This could lead to the resumption of talks between the two Koreas.
Seoul’s top priority should be to strengthen the monitoring system rather than denuclearization. Continuous negotiations will provide a breakthrough in the frayed North-South relations gradually.
The Lee Myung-bak administration should not expect tangible results in the short term. Current policies are nothing more than pushing the mouse in the corner.
The Lee government should not aim for short-term results but continuously keep good relationship with North Korea. It is very important to find how to draw changes from inside North Korea rather than to urge the military leadership to change itself.
The writer is a third-year student at Angok High School in Ilsan, northwest of Seoul.