[EDITORIALS]Misdirected youthful zeal

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[EDITORIALS]Misdirected youthful zeal

Two days ago, we witnessed two events with mixed emotions. First was the attempt by members of a radical student group to enter the United States Embassy in Seoul and burn the U.S. flag: the other was female collegians spraying paint on the gates of the Defense Ministry.

The students climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy to demand that U.S. President George W. Bush apologize for the deaths of two young girls run over by a U.S. armored vehicle. The female collegians who demonstrated in front of the National Defense Ministry demanded that Korean men resist conscription based on their "conscience." The two incidents were not planned in tandem, but there is a common denominator in the two. College students, in order to make their claims heard, attacked public institutions.

Putting aside the fact that the United States is our No. 1 ally and No. 1 trading partner, we should consider the significance of burning another nation's flag. The death of the two junior high school students in Uijeongbu was a tragic and painful accident, which should be resolved according to law and diplomacy. Burning a flag will not help resolve the matter; it can only worsen feelings on both sides.

The attack on the Defense Ministry on Armed Forces Day and the rhetoric hurled by the demonstrators is jaw-dropping. They claimed that candidates for conscription should reject the military because a military establishment leads to war. They also said that they reject conscription because sexual violence accompanies war. But spraying paint on the ministry's front gate? Isn't that also a form of violence? Why do the collegians seem to ignore the fact that a national military deters rather than triggers war? Could it be pure naivete on their part when they ignore the military's protection of our families and our country?

They proposed that conscripts could serve the nation in other ways, an interesting concept. But because the nation's young women are exempt from the draft, would it not be better if these collegians volunteered for the ongoing post-disaster relief in the flood-stricken regions?

College students are expected to challenge the current order, and society welcomes fresh alternatives. But such challenges should be conducted in peaceful and legal ways.
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