[EDITORIALS]We have been heardPresident-elect Roh Moo-hyun on Saturday appealed for participants in candlelight vigils to show restraint. Meeting with activists concerning the deaths of two girls in a road accident involving a U.S. military vehicle, he asked them to give him time, saying, "As president-elect, I will do my best to revise and pursue better implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement with the fullest responsibility."
Measured against the wide acceptance across the nation of a series of these protests, the president-elect took a bold and courageous step. In particular, we laud his prioritizing the issue of the SOFA and North Korea's nuclear problem. Mr. Roh said that while amending the SOFA has to do with national integrity, resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue is a matter of Korea's survival so he will set out to address the nuclear problem first. But the activists rejected Mr. Roh's plea, saying they were "disappointed" and that they will go ahead with a peaceful candlelight protest on Tuesday.
Not withstanding the president-elect's stand, we believe it is about time that the vigils come to a close. One reason is that there has been sufficient commemoration of the two girls. Secondly, our aspirations for national integrity and for a more equal relationship between Seoul and Washington have been conveyed loud and clear.
The task now is for the government to work with the United States to revise the SOFA and put in place other support systems to forestall the recurrence of such a tragedy. The two governments have begun working-level talks, and the president-elect has vowed to do his best, so let's give them time and see what they can come up with.
Online civic groups are taking advantage of cyberspace's unbound freedom of speech to pitch radical ideas, and the meaning of the vigils may diminish as the protests go on. We should exercise vigilance in taking action that may well be misunderstood as anti-Americanism, provoking our traditional ally when the nuclear issue north of Seoul requires close cooperation between South Korea and the United States.
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