[EDITORIALS]Privates Don't Play Golf

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[EDITORIALS]Privates Don't Play Golf

The tide is turning toward having military chiefs, including Army General Cho Yung-kil, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remain in office. They were blamed for putting their golf games ahead of responding to intrusions by North Korean vessels into South Korean waters. The general secretary of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party said the military leaders should be replaced, and a reshuffle was expected. But later, following rumors of voluntary resignations, letting the issue pass by appeared to become the preferred strategy.

There are explanations that military morale would have been damaged by firing the leaders. Is not holding them accountable for their behavior the best way to prop up military spirit and keep our defenses impenetrable?

When reprimanding the leaders first became an issue, military officials are said to have protested that it would then be difficult to manage the 600,000-strong force. That argument is not convincing. Instead, the soldiers, who are postponing their lives for the country's defense must have felt discouraged when they learned that their leaders were enjoying golf while the enemy's vessels were trespassing in our waters. If even then no one is held responsible, the military's morale would indeed be damaged. To lift the military's spirit, its leadership must restore its dignity and confidence by taking measures to improve military discipline.

The people applauded when the military fired warning shots at a North Korean fishing boat that crossed over the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea on Sunday, and we believe the military's spirit was also lifted as a result. This case confirms that it is not advisable to protect the military leaders who did not respond properly to the provocation. Leaders of the Korean Veterans Association visited the ruling and opposition parties Monday and asked them to restrain from a dispute over the military leaders' irresponsible behavior. We wholly agree that making a military problem into a political agenda will not help our security. Precisely for that reason, however, we ask a quick and stiff reprimand.

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