[EDITORIALS]Reaffirming an allianceWith rising anti-American sentiment, there is also a growing voice of concern for its possible implications. The recent demonstrations are clearly different from past protests, which had been based more on political views and ideological positions. The more recent protests are rooted in anger, much of it from women, teenaged students and parents, toward how a case that resulted in the deaths of two schoolgirls was handled.
The candlelight protests are led by a generation of people who are, partly by virtue of their young age and the environment in which they grew up in, more open to capitalism, democracy and international outlook than any other generation in the country. Their protests are not, in our view, driven by political motivation or a scheming to derail the alliance.
Their anger is largely rooted in the arrogance displayed by the United States over the schoolgirls' deaths, the apparent lack of recognition in certain U.S. officials that the two countries are equal partners in the alliance and the less-than-dignified responses shown by the officials of our government. Consultations planned for this week between Seoul and Washington, including diplomatic and defense talks and a visit here by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, are an indication that the two sides are recognizing the seriousness of the issue.
There are few, if any, people here who question the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance and of a forward-looking relationship between the two countries. The upcoming consultations must not only reaffirm the importance of the alliance but present a new framework for its progress that stands for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
There must also be a more serious and productive consideration given to the call to revise the Status of Forces Agreement; U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comment last week that a different SOFA would not have prevented the accident comes across as having missed the graveness of the issue. The process of appeasing the anti-American sentiment will also help in contributing to a greater stability in the security of East Asia and to benefiting the national interest of Korea and the United States.