January 11, 2019 13:32
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday startled reporters by saying he "sincerely welcomes" North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's hopes of reopening the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex and resuming tours to the North's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort "without conditions or rewards." More startlingly still, he claimed that "obstacles that needed to be resolved with the North have been solved."
The Kaesong Industrial Complex was shut down because of the North's fifth nuclear test in 2016, while tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort were halted in 2008 when a North Korean soldier shot a South Korean tourist dead. Both decisions were a direct response to North Korean acts of terror, but the president not only claims that all problems have been resolved but expresses gratitude for the North's wonderful generosity in attaching no conditions to the resumption of these projects. Does the president have amnesia? North Korea refuses even to submit an inventory of its nuclear facilities and materials and continues to produce nuclear weapons, so what exactly has been "resolved?"
Has he also forgotten the North's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan, which killed 46 South Korean sailors? North Korea has not only refused to take responsibility for the attack, but has virtually taunted the South over the tragedy. Last year, the South Korean foreign minister told lawmakers that the government is "considering" easing sanctions against the North imposed after that attack, and the comments triggered a furor. Nothing has changed. International sanctions remain in place for good reasons, and it is not Moon's place to ease them simply because Kim wrote him a nice Christmas card.
North Korea recently redefined "denuclearization" as eliminating the U.S. nuclear threat from the Korean Peninsula before Pyongyang scraps its nukes. Even the unification minister here, who is in charge of dealing with North Korea, admitted only Wednesday that this view "differs" from Seoul's objectives. But Moon a day later claimed there is "absolutely no difference" between the denuclearization goals of the international community and the North's. He now believes whatever Kim tells him but listens only to what he wants to hear. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
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