Just Like the American Civil War more than a century ago, the battle rages on betwenn North and South Korea with the North maintaining the upper hand. In this case it isn’t due to any superior military tactics or brilliance of the North Korean government, but to the failure of the South Korean government to stand up to their neighbors in the north.
The just concluded four days of ministerial talks brought about twelve points that both sides agreed to. The media reports that the South Koreans see the talks as having made real progress towards an eventual reunification of the two Koreas and the return to the six party talks that the North has boycotted for over a year. Yet what did the South really get? they spent nearly $400,000 hosting the talks, were asked by North Korea for 150,000 metric tons of fertilizer after having received 200,000 tons earlier this year plus the 400,000 tons of rice they sent last year as a loan. Are they really feeding their people or building a bomb with all that stuff? It seems that no matter how much fertilizer they get, they keep asking for more. Looks like the South is throwing good money, and rice and fertilzer after bad.
One item that South Korea should demand an increase is the number of families that are eligible to meet with relatives living in North Korea. From the time the program started 5 years ago the number has been fixed at just 100. The waiting list is over 80,000 people currently. At this pace it would take over 800 years before to meet the demand. By stringing this out the North Koreans continue to hold a bargaining chip in their hands.
Even though these talks were supposed to be about North-South issues the North Koreans took the opportunity to criticize President Bush for meeting with a prominent defector from the north, Kang Chol Hwan recently saying it was “a move pouring cold water on efforts to resume the six-nation nuclear dismarmament talks.” This is obviously another effort by the communist North Korean government to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea.
With the U.S. maintaining it’s hard line stance against North Korea, and with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun desperate to maintain friendly relations with it’s onetime enemy the U.S. now is viewed less favorably than North Korea in many parts of South Korea.
If President Roh isn’t careful, he will get his reunification wish, but with Kim Jong Il as the leader.