[EDITORIALS]An apology, a hope

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[EDITORIALS]An apology, a hope

U. S. President George W. Bush has sent a message of apology to the South Korean people for the deaths of two schoolgirls run over in June by a U.S. Army armored vehicle. Although the means of expressing the condolences was indirect, we could sense an honest sincerity in the message.

Mr. Bush expressed his "sadness and regret over this tragic incident" and reiterated "the United States' commitment to work closely with the Republic of Korea to help prevent such accidents from occurring in the future." Though the apology arrived here belatedly, we believe the wording is appropriate.

We respect that Mr. Bush accurately sensed the sentiments of Koreans at a time when the protests of civic organizations are turning violent and the anger of the Korean people is increasing because of the acquittals of the two American soldiers involved.

Under the accord between Washington and Seoul, it is now impossible to bring the two accused U.S. soldiers back to court. The soldiers' apologies, as expected, fell short of comforting infuriated Koreans. But now that Mr. Bush has issued his apology, we believe the right thing to do is to compose ourselves and be realistic.

The United States and South Korea use two separate jurisdictions that are based on different legal systems and ruling practices. If we remain antagonistic with Washington over this fact, it will only sour relations between the two countries.

The fundamental solution lies in revising the inequalities of the Status of Forces Agreement, which was originally drafted in a lopsided manner that favors the United States. We hope Mr. Bush takes a proactive attitude in revising the agreement, not confining his response simply to words of apology. Even though a revision was made on the agreement as recently as last year, the pact must undergo changes if both sides are to find it fair.

The Korean government must use this incident as an opportunity to revise the accord with the United States to the level of those Washington has with European countries and with Japan.
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