The great flaw in the message, say North Korean analysts, is that North Korea couples the message with what amount to conditions, including a demand that the United States must provide “security guarantees” and negotiate a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953. The US position is that North Korea must first negotiate with South Korea.
Carter reported that Kim Jong-il had said in his message that he would be willing to hold a summit with South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak. But South Korea has insisted on an apology first from North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean navy corvette the Cheonan in March of last year with a loss of 46 lives, and for the shelling of an island in the Yellow Sea last November in which four people were killed.
North Korea expressed “deep regret” over both incidents, according to Carter. But the North has repeatedly denied anything to do with the Cheonan sinking and accuses South Korean gunners of opening fire from the island before the North Koreans fired back.
Symbolism vs. substance