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(EDITORIAL from the Korea Times on July 29)
Unfinished war
Time has long past to move from truce to peace treaty

A considerable number of Koreans might have spent last weekend with mixed emotions. In the largest ceremonies in recent memory to celebrate the armistice signed 60 years ago that ended the Korean War, in Seoul, Washington and Pyongyang, both sides claimed victory in the tragic conflict and vowed to bring about peace on the divided peninsula. However, neither side appears ready to end the impasse of the last six decades or knows how to do it.

   President Park Geun-hye reiterated her calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear development programs and choose the path of peace, while vowing to “never forgive any North Korean provocations, with firm deterrence.”
A top North Korean military official also stressed the importance of a peaceful environment but added, “the reality shows we should be prepared for war if we want peace.”
It must be this mutual distrust between the two Koreas that forced President Park to adopt “trustpolitik” as her keyword in inter-Korean policy. But trust cannot be formed if the Koreas keep demanding the other side to move first, as they have been doing over the past five years or more. Denuclearization of North Korea as a precondition for further dialogue has proved to be a non-starter.

   President Park, like her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, will not start the process toward replacing the armistice with a peace treaty unless Pyongyang disavows all provocations, including its nuclear programs. But almost all major inter-Korean accords, including the 1992 Basic Agreement and the two summit declarations, call for holding three-or four-nation talks to discuss the peace treaty in parallel with the six-nation conference for denuclearizing North Korea.

   Many experts also point to the need to start discussion of a peaceful regime that can put to an end to the unstable and incomplete peace under a truce. Nothing shows the vulnerability of the armistice better than the current inter-Korean situation, in which North Korean nuclear threats are escalating and even the Gaeseong Industrial Complex is closed with few signs of reopening. North Korea has long maintained that the lack of peace treaty and diplomatic non-recognition by Washington have driven Pyongyang to resort to the ultimate means.

   It’s time to start a two-track approach of denuclearization and peace conference. Talks to reopen the inter-Korean factory complex can be a good start. Now that the Koreas have found working-group talks cannot solve political differences, they should upgrade their meeting to ministerial talks and include other humanitarian issues, such as family reunions, into the agenda.

   Any further delay can make the national goal of unification appear increasingly irrelevant, as shown by a survey of younger generations, many of whom don’t find much need for reunifying the divided peninsula. The two generations of half peace have made them think what’s abnormal as normal. It will not be easy to talk peace and reconciliation between the two sides that fought one of the fiercest wars in history. But the Koreas, especially the South, can ill afford to reminisce about the spectacular development of the past six decades.

   Until the Koreas become one through peaceful and mutually acceptable ways, the Korean War is not finished and Koreans’ dream is not fulfilled.

   Koreans must work together to advance the advent of an era when they no longer have to celebrate the armistice ― at least not in the ways they did over this weekend.
In the largest ceremonies in recent memory to celebrate the armistice signed 60 years ago that ended the Korean War, in Seoul, Washington and Pyongyang, both sides claimed victory in the tragic conflict and vowed to bring about peace on the divided peninsula. However, neither side is ready to end the impasse of the last six decades or knows how to do it.

   President Park Geun-hye reiterated her calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear development programs and choose the path of peace, while vowing to "never forgive any North Korean provocations, with firm deterrence.”
A top North Korean military official also stressed the importance of a peaceful environment but added.

  (END)
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