It is unreasonable that North Korea has been strengthening its peace offensive while turning a blind eye to South Korea’s proposal to resume the reunions of families separated in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Pyongyang has shown a pattern of issuing a series of peace overtures only to follow with sudden military provocations. It has yet to be seen whether the latest charm offensive will follow this pattern but we should remain cautious about the possibility.
President Park Geun-hye took an appropriate step last Saturday during her visit to India by calling for an airtight security posture against the North, viewing the communist regime’s recent propaganda offensive as a possible prelude to military provocations. Park and her aides have repeatedly warned that Pyongyang might attempt to commit provocative acts probably during the period from late January through March to divert attention away from internal vulnerabilities in the wake of the execution of the regime’s No. 2 figure in December.
Park’s instruction came two days after the North made a surprise proposal to the South that the two sides halt all cross-border slander and work together to prevent a nuclear calamity on the Korean Peninsula. Despite Seoul’s rejection of the offer, Pyongyang later said that it would first take steps to fulfill its proposal, calling on Seoul to follow suit. The North, however, did not elaborate on the measures to be taken.
As Seoul officials indicated, it is North Korea that has persistently made vicious verbal attacks on South Korea, not the other way around. The North should also take concrete steps toward denuclearization in a sincere manner, if it truly wants reconciliation and peace with the South.
Only a day before making the proposal to end inter-Korean tensions, Pyongyang warned of an “unimaginable holocaust” that would follow if South Korea and the U.S. went ahead with their planned joint military drills in the coming months. The allies rightly snubbed the threat, vowing to conduct the exercises as scheduled in a move that some analysts say may prompt Pyongyang to stage provocations.
North Korea’s true intention may be known by its future course of action. But the most effective and immediate way for Pyongyang to prove its peaceful intention is to accept Seoul’s proposal for family reunions as early as possible. The humanitarian move is what the communist regime has to do first to meet the hopes and demands of all Korean people.