[EDITORIALS]Concealing Violation Was WrongIt was reported belatedly Friday that a squad of North Korean soldiers had crossed the military demarcation line on the eastern front Sept. 19 and 20 and returned to the North after South Korean soldiers fired warning shots. After the press disclosed the incident, the Ministry of National Defense said it decided to conceal what it called an accidental violation of the line. However, the ministry's decision was inappropriate.
If the ministry's explanation is the truth, there was no reason to conceal the incident. Any members of the South Korean or the North Korean squad could accidentally violate the boarder while reconnoitering in thickly wooded areas. If so, they should return to their appropriate position when the infraction is discovered, especially after receiving a warning from opposing forces. That is what we call an accidental violation of boarder. In such a case, no doubts would arise if what happened were relayed frankly. The ministry said what happened was an accidental violation of the border; yet we cannot understand why it held three meetings to decide when it should reveal the incident.
The ministry reportedly gave considerable thought to the proper way of dealing with the incident: The fifth inter-Korean ministerial talks were held in Seoul immediately before the border crossing incident; Pyongyang and Seoul had agreed to a meeting of separated families in the near future; and, of all things, the incident took place where an overland route for the Mount Kumgang tourism project has been planned.
The defense ministry seemed to have had serious concern that announcing the incident would pour cold water on the laboriously achieved resumption of inter-Korean talks.
In the past, when North Korean boats violated our territorial waters, the defense ministry made political decisions. Now, it is repeating the same mistakes. We urge the ministry to reflect seriously on its behavior.