Minister Criticized on His Opinion on North Korean Terrorist ActionEditorial,Lee Jung-min, the minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was harshly criticized for his comments on North Korean terrorism.
He is currently visiting America, and his comments, made at an informal talk session with correspondents in America, raised many issues.
He said, "the focus of settlement of terrorist acts should be concentrated on the prevention of future terrorist actions, rather than punishment of previous terrorist cases." He also said that "any discussions on terrorism with North Korea and South Korea should occur only between our two nations."
The Grand National Party(GNP) criticized the minister's comments harshly. The GNP concluded its statment on Lee's comments by saying that Lee has "...a point of view which is not intend to get an apology from North Korea," and is "..a clear representation of an insane foreign affair policy."
Lee's comments were extremely inappropriate when considering the fact that South Korea is the foremost victim of North Korean terrorist actions, inclduing the cases of the Korean Air bombing insident and Aung-San insident. In addition, there are still many families of victims who can not forgive the terrorist actions of North Korea.
The Korean Air bombing insident in 1987 was the primary reason why America listed North Korea on its list of countries which support terrorism in 1988.
Lee's remark was made to keep pace with requests by America to prepare for direct official talks between North Korea and America which are planned for next month.
America has requested North Korea to declare its intention to halt any future terrorist actions, since accepting responsibility for previous cases would not be asked.
Even if the minister wanted to fall in line with the intentions of America, his statement was far too inconsiderate.
The comment that discussions on terrorism should only occure between North and South Korea can be interpreted as a guesture to push the terrorism issues to minor issue status. Moreover, there were a number of foreign victims in the Korean Air bombing insident. Therefore, the minister's comment ignored the global point of view of terrorism.
It is impossible to reason out what generated these inconsiderate comments by Lee.
It is possible that North Korea and Americal will reach the vague conclusion that "both countries are against all terrorist actions" as a result of the talks currently being held in NewYork between North Korea and America, but we would like to ask the Korean government if they would follow up on any ambiguous conclutions reached between the North and America and find a resolution to all the previous terrorist acts commited by North Korea.
The South Korean government must take responsiblility for creating a unified view toward North Korean terrorist acts.
If we go back to previous cases, it is partially the South's fault that we did not get a promise from North Korea for the prevention of terrorist action and appologies for previous terrorist acts, when the fundamental agreement between North and South Korea was framed in 1990.
It is not right to postpone the resolution of terrorist actions by the North only because North Korea denies responsiblity for these acts.
It is important to find a clear way to resolve the issue of terrorism, to reach true reconsiliation, and unification between North and South Korea.
by Park Seung-hee