Beijing, Seoul and Manila can breathe a sigh of relief when Hwang Jang-yop arrived in the South Korean capital safely yesterday, ending a 67-day defection saga for North Korea's top ideologue. The question now is how Mr Hwang, sometimes referred to as Pyongyang's Karl Marx, can contribute to the peace process on the explosive Korean peninsula. Mr Hwang indeed can offer a lot, not the least his intimate knowledge of North Korea's military plans. Some might fear that Pyongyang would unleash its military might to show its indignation over Mr Hwang's defection. Ironically, his arrival in Seoul could reduce the risk of an invasion from the North because Mr Hwang probably will brief his host, if he has not already done so, of the strengths and weaknesses of the North's 1.1 million-strong military. Mr Hwang, a former teacher of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and architect of the reclusive state's self-reliance communism ideology, was more authoritative than anyone in the West in revealing that Pyongyang aspires to unify with the South with war. Small wonder then, that North Korean delegates keep on procrastinating in coming to the peace-talks table in New York. North Korean diplomats on Saturday failed for the second day to turn up at a meeting scheduled to hear Pyongyang's response to the offer of four-party peace talks that will include China, the United States and the two Koreas. North Korea is in shambles. Mr Hwang's defection probably has plunged many compatriots' belief into confusion. On the ground, millions of civilians are suffering from hunger. Mr Kim would be wise to give up his unification dreams and listen to his former teacher to save North Korea's starving population by going down the path of peace. In the short term, Mr Kim would do his people a great favour in conceding to exchange peace for food aid. In the long run, he should look up to China. Salvation and prosperity comes with economic reforms and open-door policies. Mr Kim owes it to his people.