Fear, Miscommunication, and the Folk Hero Nasreddin Hoca

A statue of Nasreddin Hoca in Brussels (photo credit: tuhfe)

Ah, the charades of political dialogue! North Korea sends a memo urging unification and expressing its willingness to open immediate channels of dialogue with South Korea. The memo reads in part, “The resumption of dialogue and the improvement of relations hinge completely on the willingness of the South’s government.” Once the South gets its act together, in other words, the North is ready and willing to cooperate.

There are just a few small preconditions, we discover. Among them: withdrawal of US troops, apologizing for not showing proper respect toward Kim Jong Il’s death, apologizing for the false accusation of North Korean involvement in the March 2010 torpedo attacks on the Cheonan… the list demonstrates that any “dialogue” that the North might be willing to engage in would be one-sided.

Of course, this message is an improvement from North Korea’s earlier absolute unwillingness to have any relations with the South while President Lee Myung Bak remained in office. Indeed, it might signal in a backhanded way a willingness to engage in dialogue, even if not all preconditions are met. Continue reading

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S. Korea vows to deal sternly with N. Korea’s planned rocket launch

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S. Korea vows to deal sternly with N. Korea’s planned rocket launch

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea will deal sternly with North Korea’s planned rocket launch but will keep its door open to talks with the communist country, Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang said Wednesday.

The North announced last week it would launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit, in what it said was part of its peaceful space program. The launch is timed to mark the centennial of the birth of the country’s late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korea “will deal sternly with” North Korea’s planned rocket launch through close coordination with the international community, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a forum, according to his office. Continue reading

In the News – S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for dialogue

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In the News – S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for dialogue

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s point man on North Korea urged Pyongyang Friday to come forward for talks in an apparent move to ease tensions as the two sides exchanged militaristic rhetoric.

Last month, South Korea proposed holding two separate meetings with North Korea to discuss reunions of separated family members and joint pest control near ancient tombs in the isolated country. The North has yet to reply to the offers.

“I urge North Korea again to come forward for dialogue as soon as its internal situation stabilizes,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a forum attended by hundreds of former lawmakers. Continue reading