EDITORIAL: Handling North Korea

  • PR would have suffered serious losses in 2013 polls if hudud was major issue, says DAP
    PR would have suffered serious losses in 2013 polls if hudud was major issue, says DAP

    Pakatan Rakyat would have suffered devastating setbacks in Perak, Pahang, Negri Sembilan and Melacca if it had made hudud a major issue in last year’s general election, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang said. The Gelang Patah MP (pic), who had earlier said hudud was never a vote-winner for PAS in previous elections, gave an illustration of how PR... …

  • Court acquits PKR rep, rules 10-day notice in public assembly act ‘unconstitutional’
    Court acquits PKR rep, rules 10-day notice in public assembly act ‘unconstitutional’

    The Court of Appeal today struck out the charge against Selangor's deputy speaker Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad who was charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act for failing to give police a 10-day notice for a rally last year. A three-man bench led by judge Datuk Mohamad Ariff bin Md Yusof also ruled in a unanimous decision today that Section 9 (1) of... …

  • Assembly law cannot criminalise public gatherings, court rules
    Assembly law cannot criminalise public gatherings, court rules

    PUTRAJAYA, April 25 ― The Court of Appeal today unanimously ruled it unconstitutional to criminalise spontaneous public assemblies in breach of the 10-day notice required under the Peaceful... …

  • Albukhary International University withdraws decision to cease operations – Bernama
    Albukhary International University withdraws decision to cease operations – Bernama

    The Albukhary International University (AiU) in Alor Setar, Kedah has withdrawn its decision to cease operations. Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the ministry was informed of the matter by the management of AiU through a letter Wednesday. "With that decision, the matter is no longer an issue," he told reporters... …

  • Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch remains closed to traffic
    Jalan Bukit Bintang stretch remains closed to traffic

    The 500m stretch of Jalan Bukit Bintang (Jalan Tun Razak-bound) between Chulan Square and Menara Worldwide will remain closed to all traffic, said Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) today. At 10.42pm last night, a sinkhole appeared at the left lane of Jalan Bukit Bintang, said MRT Corp in a statement released this morning. The... …

  • Bible ban in Pahang hotels draws flak
    Bible ban in Pahang hotels draws flak

    Islamic authorities in Pahang have overstepped their jurisdiction by banning non-Muslim religious materials in hotels in the state, say political and religious leaders. The Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council's (Muip) recent prohibition is the first ever such ban to be issued in the country involving hotels, and has drawn strong criticism... …

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.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh The Malaysian Insider
    My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

    A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan, assistant news editor. “My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital... …

  • In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle Associated Press
    In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — When they moved from Georgia to the theme park playground of central Florida four years ago, Anthony and Candice Johnson found work at a barbecue restaurant and a 7-Eleven. Their combined salaries nevertheless fell short of what they needed to rent an apartment, so the couple and their two children have instead been hopping among cheap motel rooms along U.S. 192. …