[EDITORIALS]Wake up, ministerNorth Korea test-fired a missile and reactivated its reactor in Yeongbyeon just in time for the new South Korean government’s inauguration. Pyeongyang’s actions are provocations threatening the South’s national security. Test-firing a missile is not a violation of international law, but it is still a grave threat to us if it was a new cruise missile test as foreign media have reported. That means North Korea is reinforcing its missile power. Reopening the reactor is an even more serious provocation. It is a clear violation of the 1994 Geneva agreement after earlier violations of its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The international community has called Pyeongyang’s actions provocation, but Seoul is showing a diffident attitude, saying that the North’s moves were not surprising and are not dangerous yet. That is a shocking thing to say. Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said yesterday that the North’s moves are negotiating tactics to induce Washington into bilateral negotiations. “The new government is feeling troubled,” Mr. Jeong admitted, but the minister does not see Pyeongyang’s actions as threats to our security.
The United States and South Korea see North Korea differently and such differences rose solely from our insensitivity to our national security. The government should not exaggerate the situation and disturb the people, but deliberately ignoring Pyeongyang’s threat will worsen the people’s false sense of security. Through foreign media, Koreans are fully aware of the situation, and Seoul risks a loss of public confidence.
We agree with the government’s stance that tension must not be escalated further, but it should keep in mind the international community’s concerns about the North’s threats. If it does not and things deteriorate further, it will be easy to see where the blame lies. We must not forget reality.
The new government’s reform schemes must include a change in its attitude toward North Korea’s threats. That is a change we need badly.