North Korea outfoxes the South once againBy Asia Sentinel Jun 04, 2011 6:43PM UTC
Attempt at secret negotiations embarrasses Lee Myung-bak government, writes Asia Sentinel’s Lee Byong-chul
North Korea has again stunned the South and put its leaders on the back foot, not with a military attack but with the revelation of heretofore secret attempts at negotiations by the South at the same time the Lee government was presenting a tough face to the world.
The North Korea on June 1 disclosed a secret South Korean proposal to hold a series of three presidential summits over the next year, delivered in Beijing by officials from President Lee Myung Bak’s office, South Korea’s intelligence service and the unification ministry. Apparently, according to Reuters, the north’s representatives “told them to go back to Seoul at once.”
Given the need for absolute secrecy about a politically sensitive project, the North’s disclosure of the attempts to initiate inter-Korean summits is regarded as very unusual and could well be a sly move by the North to lure the south into a propaganda trap. Certainly what the North Korean allegations have done is to provoke broad resentment from both South Korea’s right and left and probably provoke reaction in China, the US, Japan and Russia as well.
Whether North Korea’s assertions about the proposals were valid, the secret approach to negotiations for summit meetings by Lee’s government consequently crumbled. Lee has extended the offer of a summit several times, on condition that the North apologize for the sinking of the South Korean gunship Cheonan and the shelling of an island off the South Korean coast. Lee also invited Kim Jong-il to attend a nuclear summit along with some 50 other world leaders in Seoul next year.
As usual, the North has kept the South on a string, sounding momentarily positive at the beginning of the year by saying it wanted to ease tensions, only to pull back at the last minute and once again deliver an attack. Inter-Korean relations have grown directionless, like a yacht without a rudder.