Sunday, August 16, 2009
North Korea tries to creeps back into civilized world
News from Seoul today that North Korea agreed to reopen its border with South Korea means one thing above all -- that Pyongyang, despite sometimes bewildering antisocial behavior -- still wants to be part of the world community. Knowing this should give Western policymakers renewed incentive to redouble efforts to bring North Korea to world or regional talks aimed at rolling back the impoverished communist nation's nuclear weapons programs. The border development followed a face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and Hyon Jong Un, head of South Korean Hyundai Group, who had gone to Pyongyang to arrange the return of a worker who had been detained, according to the Reuters international news service. The Hyundai group runs tourism programs to North Korea and operates an industrial park across the border that is a major source of income for Pyongyang. But that income has been sharply reduced in the past 18 months as north-south diplomatic tensions have increased, Reuters said. Today's agreement also means the reinstatement of a celebrated program that permits reunions of families separated by the partition of the country after the Korean War ended in 1953. North Korean media portrayed the two high-level meetings as a tribute to Kim, who is believed to be in poor health and maneuvering to have his son succeed him as leader. But North Korea has a lot to answer for, including recent nuclear tests, missile launches and sales of technology to other rogue states, before it can be admitted into the club.