[EDITORIALS]Minister Lim Should Resign

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[EDITORIALS]Minister Lim Should Resign

The controversy over the actions by some left-wing unification groups during their visit to North Korea has led to serious confusion among South Koreans. When the southern delegation arrived at Gimpo Airport, conservative and progressive groups reacted with some serious differences of opinion. As those confrontations intensify, we wonder if our national strength will be weakened and efforts toward North-South reconciliation and cooperation damaged.

In a meeting with the Millennium Democratic Party Tuesday, Lim Dong-won, the minister of unification, explained the background of the approval for the trip and said he would nip the controversy in the bud by taking strong action against ministry officials who are stirring the pot. But his explanations only seem to blame the incident on others without addressing how to resolve the confusion among our people.

The minister rationalized his decision to allow the trip by saying, "Despite some opposition, I approved the North Korea visit because I thought the consequences of not approving it would be even worse." We do not know how important those "other consequences" might have been. But would they have been worse than the ideological combat here that the trip caused?

The government itself is responsible for the insistence of some delegates that there was nothing wrong with supporting the North's federation unification formula. The government did not explain the differences between the North's proposal and ours after the June 2000 summit. Mr. Lim also failed to explain clearly what Seoul's position was. Therefore, he cannot avoid responsibility for the problem.

The minister also said he consulted with security and police authorities and did not ignore their objections to allowing some delegates to make the trip. The National Intelligence Service and the Public Prosecutors Office see things differently. According to them, members of anti-government groups, as judged by Korean courts, should not have been allowed to go. It is sad to see the minister trying to deflect the blame elsewhere.

We think the minister should resign voluntarily. He caused the collision among South Koreans and is a burden on the president. We have many urgent economic issues to solve without this added burden that threatens to split our society.

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