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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 17)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:06 October 17, 2018

No need for rush
Skepticism rises over inter-Korean railway project

The two Koreas agreed to speed up economic cooperation during high-level talks at the Peace House on the South's side of the border village of Panmunjeom, Monday.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon and his North Korean counterpart Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, took part in the talks. They have met multiple times this year, most recently at the 11th anniversary of the Oct. 4 Declaration in Pyongyang earlier this month. After getting together many times, the minister said the North felt like a "neighbor."

Despite the friendly mood at the inter-Korean talks, there is rising skepticism with the speed of the economic cooperation between the two Koreas, which agreed to begin inspections of sites for re-linking railways and roads this month. In a joint statement, the two sides said that they will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for rail and road links in late November or early December.

For many Koreans, the rail and road link with North Korea is seen as a strong symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation. The problem is that these costly inter-Korean projects may violate the international sanctions against North Korea.

The timing for initiating such a project is not good because the U.S. is still insisting on maintaining strong sanctions against North Korea until it shows clear signs to denuclearize. Concerns are rising over the growing rift between South Korea and the U.S. over the sanctions. After his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month, Moon has been stressing the need to relieve sanctions in media interviews. In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro ahead of his European tour, Moon said North Korea is experiencing "huge economic difficulties because of the continued economic sanctions imposed by the international community."

During his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron during their summit at the Elysee Palace late Monday, Moon asked the French leader to persuade the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to modify sanctions on Pyongyang. But Macron said North Korea must first show precise commitment for dismantlement of its nuclear and missile programs.

More Koreans are becoming upset up with Moon, who is increasingly being criticized for speaking too much about the North's position. His rush to engage in inter-Korean projects is also not taken positively by the international media.

President Moon should take to heart the criticisms of his overly enthusiastic efforts for economic integration with North Korea and adjust the pace of inter-Korean projects.

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