[EDITORIALS]Sowing discord here

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[EDITORIALS]Sowing discord here

Truly disappointing developments are unfolding in our politics and several media organs over the naval battle in the Yellow Sea. The claim that South Korea was partly to blame or that the North fired accidentally, put forth by some legislators and members of the media, overlooks the essential question in the incident.

The germane aspects of Saturday's battle is that North Korean ships violated the Northern Limit Line, fired preemptively at South Korean speedboats in our own waters and some of our sailors have died. The North's military provocation is a serious violation of the armistice agreement between the two countries, and buries in the sea the spirit of inter-Korean reconciliation that most South Koreans have supported.

But some in our society seem to suffer from the illusion that South Korean fishing boats provided an occasion for the North Korean ships to attack first, because they were working in the buffer area below the Northern Limit Line that is off-limits to fishing. Some of these South Korean fishing boats are suspected of having gone across the Northern Limit Line.

But there have been precedents where South Korean crab fisherman worked in the off-limits buffer seas during the high-season for crabs. But there is a considerable distance between the off-limits zone and the Northern Limit Line, and to link the fishing matter to the North's preemptive attack gives the impression that some of our politicians and media are trying to find fault with the South.

Perhaps we can excuse the politicians and pro-government forces for attempting to protect the sunshine policy, and small skirmishes between the two Koreas should not flare up into a war. Therefore, we should respond militarily based on the facts and principles so that we can reduce the possibility of small conflicts. The official position of the Defense Ministry is that the attack was "intended and preemptive." Claiming that the incident may have been accidental or that the South was in part responsible just stirs division. If the government would overlook an intrusion of South Korean sovereign territory for the sake of keeping alive the sunshine policy, how can the Korean public believe in the government or the legislators? The inquiry team at the Joint Chiefs of Staff should make public the results of its investigation of the incident.
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