[EDITORIALS]How words can divide

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[EDITORIALS]How words can divide

Disharmony has emerged within the government's national security team over the phrase "main enemy" in the Defense White Paper. Lim Dong-won, the president's special adviser who visited the North early this month, and the unification minister are reportedly ready to accommodate North Korea's criticism over this "problematic" wording and recommend that it not appear in the new Defense White Paper due in May. However, the National Defense Ministry is against the deletion.

The government's approach to this matter exposes disunity and the widening divide within the South on policy toward the North.

Mr. Lim and the unification minister appear to believe that accepting the North's demand will help persuade North Korea to faithfully implement agreements with Seoul, including the resumption of the project to reconnect the Kyeongui railroad. Since the Defense Ministry opposes deleting the phrase, Mr. Lim is said to have planned a discussion of the revision at the National Security Council meeting.

That is not the right way to address this issue. We believe that the Defense Ministry's position that the issue must be dealt with on a reciprocal basis is more reasonable. The North has refused to open a military meeting, which was agreed by both sides. The Defense Ministry's position is that if the issue were discussed at the planned military meeting, it would contribute to military confidence building and promote reconciliation and cooperation to a higher level without creating a South-South divide.

Reconnecting the Kyeongui railroad and construction of the Gaeseong industrial complex will bring benefits to the South, but the main beneficiary of the projects is North Korea itself. While North Korea promotes projects with the help of the South out of necessity, the North should not try to force a military issue as a precondition.

Military issues should be solved through military channels between the military authorities. We should remember that the purpose of promoting economic cooperation is to ease military tension on the peninsula.
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