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In a setback to several positive developments in recent weeks on the Korean peninsula, Pyongyang has rejected Seoul's offer of investment and direct trade. "Cooperation and confrontation are incompatible," Pyongyang's Central News Agency said in a dispatch. The report was the North's first response to the South Korean initiative for economic cooperation announced Monday after a 50-year hands-off policy. So, while the possibility of direct trade between the two countries appears to be flagging, indirect trade through third parties -- which North Korea hasn't blocked -- is flourishing. In the first eight months of this year, it soared to $232 million, up from $1 million in 1983. The increase occurred even as the North stepped up its anti-South Korean rhetoric during nuclear disputes, which were resolved in the deal brokered by the U.S. on Oct. 21.Post your opinion on theInternationalbulletin board.