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PacNet #2 – Reconsidering Four Party Talks in Korea

Last year’s euphoria and progress in inter-Korean relations has given way to frustration and deadlock as 2002 begins. The failure of the Sixth ROK-DPRK Ministerial Meeting in November symbolizes the breakdown in North-South dialogue. President Kim Dae-jung remains committed to reconciliation, but Pyongyang’s failure to reciprocate his initiatives has seriously undercut support in the South for his version of engagement. With ministerial talks blocked by Pyongyang’s personal assault on Unification Minister Hong Sun-yong, Seoul will try to use Red Cross talks to arrange family reunifications and working-level economic committee meetings to handle food and fertilizer aid. Whether these approaches to sustain a minimum of North-South contacts will work remains to be seen.