[EDITORIALS]Death warrants no action?

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[EDITORIALS]Death warrants no action?

The Joint Chiefs of Staff's investigations into the recent naval clash in the Yellow Sea makes it clear that Koreans' concerns and disappointment over security are not groundless. The Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that the North had planned to provoke the South but the navy had successfully defended the Northern Limit Line due to its firm combat spirit and speedy response. The initial mishandling of the military clash stemmed from the misunderstanding of the damage report; officials believed that five South Koreans were dead or injured when actually five were killed. "We believed that damage on our side was minute," the spokesman said.

How can a military clash be determined as a minor incident when five were reported to be dead or injured? The essence of this incident is that enemies have violated South Korea's territorial waters and our naval boats and soldiers were affected. How can military authorities, which put priority on defending the nation as their top obligations, say they could not respond effectively against the enemy attack because they misunderstood the initial report on the number of deaths and damage during the battle?

As the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged, the North Korean navy showed menacing signs several times before the recent skirmish. They violated the Northern Limit Line four times in June. On June 13, they aimed their guns at South Korean boats for 30 minutes after they crossed the sea border. It has been reported that military officials picked up signs of a possible military provocation from the North by eavesdropping on North Korea's military communications. How can military authorities call this a successful operation when they took no concrete steps against the ominous signals emanating from the North and canceled open-fire orders because the North's radar was made operational?

The military authorities should not cover their mistakes with quibbling and should punish military officials found to be responsible. The government should open an inter-Korean conference to address responsibility, compensation and punishment over the clash and employ concrete steps to prevent military clashes from happening again. If the North does not respond to such demands, Mount Geumgang tours should be gradually reduced or suspended.
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