[Editorial] N. Korea and talks
Published : Feb 10, 2011 - 18:44
Updated : Feb 10, 2011 - 18:44
North Korea’s military said Thursday that it would not engage in dialogue with its South Korean counterpart any longer, laying the blame for the collapse on Wednesday of the two-day working-level military talks between the two Koreas on the South.

The North’s state media quoted its delegation to the failed talks as saying that “the South do not wish for improvement of inter-Korean relations and are refusing dialogue itself.” Under these circumstances, the delegate said, “We no longer feel the need to be associated with the South.”

On Wednesday, the North’s delegation abruptly ended the talks by unilaterally walking out of the meeting room in the truce village of Panmunjeom, after arguing that the North was not responsible for the sinking of the South’s Cheonan warship in March 2010.

Throughout the two days of talks, the two sides clashed over the agenda, date and level of representative for a higher-level military meeting. Regarding the agenda, the South insisted that the North apologize explicitly for torpedoing the Cheonan corvette and shelling the South’s Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010 and promise it would not repeat such unwarranted aggressions in the future.

In contrast, the North suggested that the two sides discuss broad measures to mitigate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula as well as the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents. The South viewed the North’s proposal as a tactic designed to sidestep or water down its responsibility for the two assaults.

The North’s response to the South’s demand for an apology clearly showed it is still not ready for any meaningful talks with the South. The two-day preliminary talks were held at the repeated urging of the North. But the North’s delegation unilaterally ended it after confirming that the South has no intention of providing aid to the North without an apology from it.

Apologizing for its past wrongdoings is the bare minimum the North is required to do in order to upgrade inter-Korean dialogue and get support from the South.