중앙데일리

[FOUNTAIN]In the line of fire

Mar 23,2003
Land mines made their debut in late 1914, in the early days of World War I. German forces set down the explosives in a field used by British forces, gaining some swift victories. In 1917, the Germans began using land mines against the British forces’ new armored vehicles.
The torpedo was first made available for use by the father of Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite. The torpedo, which explodes when contacting a ship, made its debut in the Crimean War, fought from 1854 to 1856.
In the records of the British Guard Infantry’s battles, the hand grenade first appeared. The modern version of the grenade was invented by Sir William Mills in 1915. To use the “Mills bomb,” the thrower first removes a safety pin to detonate the bomb. When the grenade is actually thrown, it breaks into many fragments, killing or wounding the enemy. On the fierce battlefields of World War I, the hand grenade became known quickly.
A tripwire is a device linked to bombs, such as land mines or grenades, and detonates explosives when touched by the enemy. Booby traps are typical kinds of weapons that use tripwires. Walking along a road carelessly, or curiously picking up a toy in the street will cause someone to die of an explosion. In that sense, booby traps hit a blind spot in the human psyche, emphasizing the cruelty of mankind. To understand how that works, just rent a video of an old war movie.
On the Korean Peninsula, a tripwire refers to the role of U.S. forces stationed near the Demilitarized Zone. By being located in harm’s way for a North Korean attack, the U.S. troops assure the South of their almost automatic involvement in a war on the peninsula. If North Korea begins reprocessing its nuclear fuel rods, that will be an act of stepping on the tripwire that will initiate a nuclear crisis in Northeast Asia.
On March 6, South Korean Prime Minister Goh Kun stated three principles that U.S. forces should respect when relocating their bases. And yet only a few days ago a senior Pentagon official made clear that South Korea should no longer use the word “tripwire.” It proves that Mr. Goh’s principles were made public with at least advance coordination between Seoul and Washington. Right now, tripwires of various forms are drawn around Korea’s political, economic and military issues. The situation is serious, but Seoul seems to see the tripwires as nothing more than cobwebs.


by Noh Jae-hyun

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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