[EDITORIALS]Sunshine casts a shadow

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[EDITORIALS]Sunshine casts a shadow

Did the South Korean military react properly to North Korea's naval provocation in the Yellow Sea? We believe that the sunshine policy played a part in our navy's poor response to the North's attack. Evidence is growing that the South's military leadership was hesitant to order counterattacks despite assuring us that both security and rapprochement are pillars of our North Korea policy. The military was careless; our warships were out of firing range of the patrol boats they were protecting.

As Seoul's military leaders have pointed out, problems in the military's rules of engagement may have been a key factor that prevented its Navy from reacting immediately. The South's five-stage rules of engagement, which require the Navy to begin with loudspeaker warnings to intruding North Korean vessels and then to take three other steps before opening fire, is too cumbersome. Had the intervening steps been shortened, the outcome would have been less serious. The complaints now about those rules show problems in our security leadership.

Our military leaders should be held responsible for the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel that left four crewmen killed, one missing and 19 injured. President Kim Dae-jung does not want skirmishes to escalate into all-out war, but that should not mean that the navy should allow the North's warships that crossed the maritime border and sank one of our vessels to go home unscathed.

But look at what happened. The North Korean intruders returned to their own territory without being attacked by our warships and fighter jets nearby. General Lee Nam-Shin, the commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said clumsily that his men did not open fire "because of concern that it might lead to an all-out war."

If the sunshine policy is to succeed, security must be ensured. The inter-Korean summit talks took place and exchanges followed because we fought back determinedly in 1999 when North Korea attacked us in the Yellow Sea.

Although our military failed to react properly, we must make it clear that we will not provide economic support unless Pyeongyang apologizes and stops its provocations.
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