[imText1]On the 26th it was revealed that Myanmar authorities and North Korean foreign affairs had signed an agreement to restore relations.
When South Koreans look back on Oct 1983, they remember the organized explosion by North Korea on South Korean officials at Rangoon’s Martyr’s Mausoleum, Burma. Following this incident, Burma as it was known at the time, suspended all foreign relations with North Korea and after the KAL incident in 1987, the U.S. listed North Korea as a terrorist nation. Amidst these circumstances, analysts suggest that the recent amiable friendship between North Korea and Myanmar is a sign that Myanmar will no longer consider North Korea as a terror nation.
The restoration of North Korea and Myanmar relations poses two issues for South Korea.
First, Myanmar would be barking up the wrong tree by taking North Korea off its list of terror nations and restoring relations with North Korea. Even if North Korea is taken off Myanmar’s list of terror nations, before pursuing any relationships with Myanmar, North Korea should make a formal apology to South Korea. Moreover, rather than pursuing foreign relations with North Korea, the Myanmar government must also take into consideration South Korea’s position and the South Korean government should not idly watch Myanmar’s take action.
Second, the restoration of North Korea and Myanmar’s friendly relations must not lead to a collaborative dictatorship. An international human rights organization Freedom House, categorizes both North Korea and Myanmar as the world’s worst dictatorial regimes.
The Myanmar government must stop neglecting the people’s requests for democracy. However, the dictatorial regime in North Korea is far worse than that of Myanmar. Myanmar must confront the North Korean government about the people’s oppression and waywardness of the people. Also, the fact that many defectors from North Korea travel through Myanmar only raises further concern for South Korea. The Myanmar government needs to know that if it were by any means to adopt a role that would aid the dictatorship of North Korea, then it would be faced with severe criticism from the international community.
There is no reason for South Korea to be opposed to North Korea’s attempt at breaking from its isolation. Rather, if North Korea is truly hoping to normalize itself on the international arena, it is something to be anticipated. However, if the restoration of these relations is an attempt to further indulge its own dictatorship and further oppress human rights, it is not something we can accept or welcome.