[EDITORIALS]Dead sailors, Northern lies

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[EDITORIALS]Dead sailors, Northern lies

North Korea said the battle in the Yellow Sea resulted from its "self-defense measure after South Korea's first strike," a distortion of the facts. The North also rejected a proposal by the UN Military Armistice Commission to start a joint investigation into the battle to decide who violated the armistice agreement. Pyeongyang said that it would not agree to the investigation unless the Northern Limit Line is abolished first. Those responses show some contradictions.

The official explanation by the North's navy three days ago is in marked contrast to the reaction here. The North said, "Those in the military command of the South committed provocations to pour cold water on unification fervor and the inter-Korean reconciliation process." By contrast, in the South the military is being harshly criticized for allowing massive damage during the battle by loosening its defense readiness because military leaders were too much influenced by the sunshine policy. This boiling criticism against the "political soldiers" of the South Korean military makes it difficult for South Koreans to take the North's charges seriously.

The North also said it was illogical for North Korean ships, far fewer in number than the South Korean vessels, to strike first. If it is the case, how could the North Korea's ships avoid the South's electronically guided weapons? How could they also manage to hit the heart of a South Korean ship using manually operated guns during its counterattack?

If the North truly believes that the South fired first, why hasn't it asked the South to convene a military meeting and tried to hold the South accountable there? How could Rodong Sinmun, the North Korean Workers' Party organ, play down the story of such a victory, putting it on Page 5, even though the North Korean ships sank a South Korean ship after they were struck first by the South Koreans?

The North said the Northern Limit Line is an illegitimate, phantom demarcation. But the North in fact recognized it in the 1992 South-North Basic Agreement. If they would like to change it, the North should come to the table for inter-Korean defense talks and raise the issue. But the North keeps avoiding such talks.

The North should tell the truth about the battle and apologize. The two sides should start talking to ensure such an incident does not happen again.

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