[INSIGHT]Sunshine policy is no end in itselfI have declared myself a believer in the sunshine policy. A month ago, I said we should keep up the humanitarian food aid to the North without bragging. I said that we should not hurt the North's pride, talking about "giving away unilaterally," when we gave them not so much.
But nine days ago, a battle broke out between the two Koreas on the Yellow Sea, in which the North initiated the hostilities. Five young sailors were killed and dozens were wounded. It appears that I was shortsighted. Should we keep saying in this situation that reconciliation and cooperation are the only ways to solve military tension?
It is time for the government and some intellectuals who insist on the sunshine policy to answer this question. First of all, I think that applying dichotomies like "war or peace" to the North is wrong. When a person thinks security is more important, he becomes a warmonger; when he insists on sunshine, he can be a pacifist. The dichotomy is one factor that plunges our policy for the North into confusion.
The reconciliation and cooperation policy for the North properly starts from the confidence borne of strong national security. President Kim Dae-jung also has stressed this point. Security is not separable from reconciliation and cooperation; it is not that more of the one means less of the other. It is rather as though national security is the strong wind and reconciliation and cooperation are the sunshine. Our policy for the North includes both wind and sunshine. But some time ago the wind abated and only sunshine remained. Or security was subordinated and only reconciliation and cooperation were stressed. In the government, some sunshine policy believers became sunshine mongers.
Without a strong national defense, the sunshine policy loses its power. This is elementary common sense, which the sunshine mongers in the government seem to forget. The heads of the military and National Security Council were unable to demonstrate a strong national defense. There were some news reports that the powerful patrol boats did not use their power in a timely fashion, and that the order to fire at the enemy was canceled. We showed strong naval power in the Yonpyeong sea battle three years ago, and it made the inter-Korean summit possible. But with an impotent national defense, it is very difficult to make any kind of sunshine policy work. The military chiefs seem to have been infected with sunshine policy and unable to work well.
Does the sunshine policy lead to effective action? If the North's navy boats had attacked and then sailed away in the initial stage of battle, the sunshine policy believers should show their negotiation power, bringing the North to the table for criticism and an apology. If that happened, we could see a little fruit from the sunshine policy into which this government has poured more than four years of effort. But North Korea refused even to attend the cease-fire committee, and news media in the North insist that the South provoked the battle.
The ultimate purpose of sunshine policy is the negotiation of arms reduction through military consultation, while giving aid to the North through economic cooperation. This government's sunshine policy is honey-mouthed but achieves nothing visible by way of easing military tension. The sunshine policy ended with one summit between the two Koreas and a Nobel Prize.
I cannot understand some sunshine policy believers' insistence on peace, given this government's poor record on national defense and policy toward the North. Who likes war and hates peace? If there is some problem of national defense, worrying about it and questioning it are a citizen's basic right and the duty of the press. But some sunshine policy believers treat criticism as if it were an irresponsible hard-line policy that provokes war.
And some media treat rumor as news, quoting some fishermen saying that about 10 boats from the South crossed over the fishing limit line and the naval patrol boats chased them, and after that the North's patrol boats came out and fired. The media commented that the South has some responsibility for the battle. The fishing limit line, 12 kilometers from the Northern Limit Line, is a line we made in order to protect our fishermen. Though the fishermen crossed that line, there would be no reason for the North to fire on our navy. It is no different from a declaration of war.
The rumor mongers ignored and distorted the facts, which even the Defense Ministry confirmed. They seem to be afraid of hurting their belief in the sunshine policy. For what country's sake do they exist? They don't support national defense even as our territory is breached and our military men killed. If these are the sunshine policy believers in this country, I will no longer be one of them.
The writer is the editorial page editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kwon Young-bin