&#91EDITORIALS&#93The elders speak out

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[EDITORIALS]The elders speak out

Korean elder statesmen, including former President Kim Young-sam, issued yesterday a declaration expressing grave concern about the current state of the nation.

"The national security crisis and the split in public opinion have reached a seriously worrisome state," the declaration said. The North Korean nuclear issue, candlelight vigils and conflicts and confrontations between classes and generations over South Korea-U.S. relations are at a dangerous level.

Amid the confrontations, disparagement and slander have become common, blocking the formation of a united public consensus. The declaration is outspoken advice that such splits among our people must be mended as soon as possible.

The security issue has been adrift for a long term. When one side's voice gets stronger, balance is lost. When emotional voices filled with nationalism and a spirit of independence gained power, anti-American sentiment spread and the public became distracted from national security questions.

Why did the elder statesmen wait so long to speak out? Because security issues had become the focus of the presidential election, they were trying to not intervene in politics, but because of their silence, the public's view of security matters became even more distorted. It is laudable that these political, religious and academic leaders have spoken out now. "An extremely dangerous phenomenon is emerging in our country. Some people are demanding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peninsula and embracing North Korean provocations with emotional nationalism," the senior leaders warned, trying to return some balance to the debate.

The declaration will, we hope, lead to a wider security debate. The young and the old generations should begin a healthy debate on the issue. The experience of the old and the energy of the young must be united. Those who do not share the declaration's views should not evaluate it ideologically ?they should read it as an expression of patriotism by the persons who issued it.

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