(EDITORIAL from Korea JoonAng Daily on Sept. 20)

Is it time to celebrate the military agreement?

Former President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday attended a ceremony to commemorate the fifth year of the Pyongyang Joint Declaration, which took place on Sept. 19, 2018. The former president traveled to Seoul for the first time after starting his post-retirement life in South Gyeongsang last year. The event was attended by Moon's former aides and ministers, as well as current members of the Democratic Party (DP).

But we wonder if this is the right time for such a celebration, given the stark security situation around the country. In that summit between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, both sides signed a military agreement banning any hostile activities against one another. But the agreement didn't work at all.

At the time, the Moon administration praised the agreement as a "de facto agreement on non-aggression." But the North's violation of the agreement continued. Following the firing of artillery shells in the buffer zone of the Yellow Sea in 2019, the North fired hundreds of rounds at our guard post on the front line in 2020. The North even flew military drones over Seoul last December. It has violated the agreement as many as 17 times since 2018. Who could believe the efficacy of the agreement under such circumstances?

Moreover, North Korea is ratcheting up the level of its nuclear and missile technology. Bragging about its nuclear-tipped tactical missiles, the North ceaselessly unveils its advanced ballistic and cruise missiles. At the time of the military agreement, both countries were interested in preventing an accidental clash. But today, the entire region of South Korea is within the shooting range of the North's tactical nukes. On top of that, there is the possibility of Russia transferring its advanced missile technology to the North, as may have been agreed to between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin in their recent summit. Is it really a good time for such a narcissistic meeting?

After the aerial penetration of North Korean drones, President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered his aides to consider a suspension of the Sept. 19 joint declaration. The nominees for the new unification minister and defense minister also mentioned the possibility of suspending the joint agreement. But if we first declare a cessation of the agreement, it poses many risks. It will be better for the government to urge North Korea to respect the agreement, while leaving room for the suspension.

The severed inter-Korean and North-U.S. relations make it difficult to find an effective solution to cope with the mounting nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. Despite the failed agreement, Moon's close allies gathered to celebrate the signing of the joint declaration. We hope they wake up and cooperate to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea instead of celebrating themselves.


Source: Yonhap News Agency

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