[EDITORIALS]President's weak responsePresident Kim Dae-jung's message to North Korea, and countermeasures against the North (or rather the lack of them) announced upon his return from Japan fall short of public expectation. Mr. Kim simply reiterated the government's position on the battle in the Yellow Sea. Put simply, his response is disappointing.
Mr. Kim did not suggest any concrete measures to calm the public's rage over the disastrous South Korean battle casualties. He used ambiguous rhetoric that seemed devoid of substance in an attempt to affirm that the government will strengthen national security. We cannot understand why he, as the nation's commander-in-chief, did not comment on the South Korean navy's lethargic response in the exchange of fire.
It irritates the ear to hear the president say that North Korea has sustained casualties, too. It seems that Mr. Kim fails to understand that South Koreans are outraged because the South has been pouring aid into the North under the sunshine policy. Mr. Kim gives the impression of framing the skirmish in the context of who suffered more between the two Koreas.
Mr. Kim's message toward North Korea does not seem to have changed. The public had expected the president to say that "I will strongly ask for an apology from the North, that they deal with those responsible for the attack and promise non-recurrence." The public also expected him to go a step beyond, to say that the North must comply with that demand, proclaiming that the South would not tolerate such action.
If the president had spoken in the first person as the initiator of the sunshine policy, he would have carried far more weight. However, he spoke as the "government" and did not demand the North's compliance.
One salvageable part of Mr. Kim's message is his warning that if the North uses military provocation again, "North Korea would also suffer great damage."
It would be worth noting whether the absence of the sunshine policy from his message was intended to warn the North or a measure to still controversy over the cause of the incident.