EDITORIAL: Handling North Korea

  • Sales of Malaysian products normal in China despite boycott call – Bernama
    Sales of Malaysian products normal in China despite boycott call – Bernama

    The sales of Malaysian products in China, particularly food and beverage (F&B) products, remain normal despite calls by Chinese netizens to boycott them following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370. A Malaysian importer of various products here, Loh Wee Keng, said the sales of F&B products were normal, especially in... …

  • Detainee’s ‘sudden death’ in jail due to viral infection, say police – Bernama

    A man who was remanded by the police last week on a drug-related offence was found dead at the Jinjang police station lock-up in Kuala Lumpur early today. The police found A. Mogan, 48, on the floor of the cell and foaming at the mouth at 12.45am. Sentul police chief ACP Zakaria Pagan said after finding Mogan unconscious, the police called... …

  • Sea Dragon and other probes that can go deeper may take over if mini-sub fails, says CNN
    Sea Dragon and other probes that can go deeper may take over if mini-sub fails, says CNN

    The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is nearing the end of its 40th day without any significant development and CNN aviation consultant Mary Schiavo said underwater probes which can go deeper may be deployed if current efforts using a high-tech mini-submarine fails. The mini-submarine or autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), known as... …

  • Police cadet delivers baby in toilet while under training
    Police cadet delivers baby in toilet while under training

    A police trainee who was undergoing training at the police training centre (PULAPOL) delivered a baby girl in a toilet at a hospital yesterday, three months after she was tested negative for pregnancy. A source said the trainee, delivered her baby in a toilet of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital at 11am. Both mother and child are in good health. It... …

  • Mahathir wants Causeway replaced with ‘Friendship Bridge’ to Singapore – Bernama
    Mahathir wants Causeway replaced with ‘Friendship Bridge’ to Singapore – Bernama

    Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) today suggested the removal of the Johor Causeway in order to build the Friendship Bridge proposed by the government.    He said the Johor Causeway causes various problems, mainly involving environmental issues and traffic congestion, in Johor Baru.   "If it is a bridge, then what need is... …

  • MACC reaches out to Chinese community – Bernama
    MACC reaches out to Chinese community – Bernama

    The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has invited more Chinese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to participate in the "Amalan Kredibiliti, Masyarakat Berintegriti" (Credible Practices, Community Integrity) Programme at the Malaysian Institute of Integrity in Kuala Lumpur on April 26. MACC Community Education Division director... …

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - South Korea's President-elect Park Geun-hye mentioned Pyongyang's recent firing of a long-range rocket as a case that "symbolically showed how grave our security reality is" in her address to the nation a day after her win in the Dec. 19 presidential vote.

The following day, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for developing bigger rockets at a banquet he hosted for scientists, technicians and other officials involved in the Dec. 12 launch, according to the North's state media.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Sunday Pyongyang's latest liftoff amounted to the test of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a half-ton payload over 10,000 kilometers. The conclusion, based on the analysis of an oxidizer container recovered from the rocket's first-stage splashdown site, reaffirmed that the launch was a disguised test for banned ballistic missile technology, not a scientific mission aimed at putting a satellite into orbit, as claimed by the North. The findings will further strengthen the case for South Korea and its allies including the U.S. to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions that prevent it from proceeding with nuclear and missile development programs.

In the aftermath of Pyongyang's rocket launch, Park may have difficulty finding momentum for taking a new initiative toward the communist regime. Her post-election speech appeared to indicate she would be cautious for the time being in pushing for her policy of conditional engagement with the North.

Park has said she is open to dialogue with Pyongyang to start the process of building mutual trust in a departure from outgoing President Lee Myung-bak's hard-line stance against the isolated regime. But she has also called on North Korea to show sincerity toward easing tension on the peninsula, especially progress in nuclear dismantlement, to enable full-fledged cooperation between the two Koreas.

Park's approach apparently results from a lesson that neither Lee's strict adherence to reciprocity and his two liberal predecessors' policy of unconditional engagement was successful in changing the attitudes of the North. But it may also prove too nave to expect that simply resuming talks with Pyongyang with no preconditions would lead to a thaw in inter-Korean ties frozen for the past years.

What may be needed in handling North Korea is a sophisticated mixture of carrots and sticks. The North should be made to go through some consequences for its provocative acts such as its latest rocket launch. Simultaneously, a dialogue channel must be kept open as a tool for modifying its behavior by suggesting security assurances and other benefits it could gain from changing its course.

If necessary, Park may have to take a bolder initiative than a measured engagement. As some observers note, her credentials as a conservative leader may allow her to pursue a more flexible approach than anticipated without prompting suspicions from her rightwing supporters.

In the process of building inter-Korean confidence, she needs to maintain close coordination with U.S. President Barack Obama, who is entering his second term, and draw support from new Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Washington is expected to continue being responsive to Seoul's approach toward Pyongyang. But Obama's nomination of Sen. John Kerry as his new secretary of state may bring in new dynamics in dealing with North Korea, as the seasoned senator is known for having a deep understanding of Korean issues and supporting bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang. It would be another test of Park's diplomatic capability to enlist effective cooperation from Xi in keeping North Korea in check.

Park and her aides are required to have been armed with a long-term roadmap and detailed tactics for securing peace and stability on the peninsula by the time she is inaugurated as the country's first female president in February.

In the transition period and probably during the first months of Park's presidency, South Korea needs to watch out for North Korea's possible provocations aimed at testing or taming the new administration in Seoul.

Pyongyang, which made clear its preference for Park's liberal rival, Moon Jae-in of the opposition Democratic United Party, in the election campaign, appears to be pondering how to react to the conservative leader.

North Korea may take some time to gauge the sincerity of Park's willingness to engage it. There is still the possibility of Pyongyang taking an aggressive stance even before Park's inauguration to push her to make a choice between confrontation and dialogue with it. North Korea has a long record of applying pressure during transitions in South Korea, with experts noting it has made provocative acts with few exceptions within months of previous presidential polls in the South.


Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says The Malay Mail Online
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge... …

  • Wreck hunter confident MH370 crash site found, says Aussie paper The Malaysian Insider
    Wreck hunter confident MH370 crash site found, says Aussie paper

    A wreck hunter is confident that the search teams had pinpointed the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and believes that the black boxes will be located soon, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports. David Mearns, director of Blue Water Recoveries told the ABC's 7.30 programme yesterday, he was confident that, because of their... …

  • ‘All the best’, Selangor MB tells Bible society at exit The Malay Mail Online
    ‘All the best’, Selangor MB tells Bible society at exit

    SHAH ALAM, April 15 — Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said today he wished the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) well on its decision to move its headquarters out to Kuala Lumpur to... …