[EDITORIALS]Soldiers and Northern IdeologyThe Kook Bang Ilbo, an organ of the Ministry of National Defense, carried a news item from the North Korean Central News Agency recently that "Sea of Blood," a North Korean revolutionary opera, marked its 1,500th performance, and National Assemblymen asked Wednesday if the newspaper should be called Rodong Sinmun, the official organ of North Korea's Workers' Party. Kook Bang Ilbo (Defense Daily), distributed to Korean servicemen for ideological training and education, carried the news on its "Today in North Korea" page on March 22, with subtitles such as "Perfect Masterpiece Embodying the Ideology of Self-reliance."
"Sea of Blood" is set in the 1930s, but it is one of a series of revolutionary operas allegedly created in the 1970s by Kim Jong-il, the chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commission, to spread in North Korean people the juche (self-reliance) ideology of Kim Il-song, the former North Korean leader. That ideology includes communizing the entire Korean Peninsula. Considering the special character of the Kook Bang Ilbo as both a news and ideological training publication, the newspaper seems to be guilty of confusing our soldiers rather than training them. Certainly calling the opera a perfect embodiment of the North Korean ideology is carrying things too far.
It might be a simple mistake, as the Kook Bang Ilbo explained. But the insensitivity of the Ministry of National Defense is surprising; it did not appear to know about the publication of the story until Representative Kang Chang-sung raised it, although the story ran in the paper a month ago. Kim Dong-shin, the Minister of National Defense, explained that the story was intended to convey that North Korea is still passionate in idolizing the two Kims, but it is difficult to see what the ministry actually had in mind.
We wonder if such a loose security posture results from the ministry's efforts last year to suppress news unfavorable to President Kim's sunshine policy. The president's orders to inspire both a sense of security consciousness and of reconciliation with the North might have been misunderstood. Military strength is the bastion of our national security. "Military strength come from the morale of soldiers," President Kim said. Ideological confusion among soldiers endangers national security, a fact the defense ministry should keep in mind.