[EDITORIALS]Signs of statesmanshipA mixed range of emotions ― relief and dissatisfaction, support and opposition ―criss-cross South Korea’s public opinion after President Roh Moo-hyun’s U.S. visit and his meeting with President George W. Bush. The two leaders consolidated a friendship, and a large majority of South Koreans, who believe that the North Korean nuclear crisis should be surmounted through water-tight cooperation with the United States, give the president high marks for his trip. On the other hand, progressive organizations, some of his supporters and members of the outlawed Hanchongryun student organization, accuse the president of “crow-eating diplomacy.”
President Roh should not buckle in the face of such criticism, and should proceed to carry out the agreements reached with President Bush. The public should support him in his pragmatic line of approach to national security, regardless of differences in political orientation.
The president’s supporters may well feel a sense of betrayal for his change of tune while in the United States. But the change reflects the difficulty and the dilemma facing Mr. Roh, and he should not bow to pressure. As he himself said, the office of the president, as chief caretaker of national and public security, may call for different decisions than those he made in his former opposition days. The large majority of Koreans believe that Mr. Roh is growing into a statemanship befitting a commander-in-chief. He should adopt a platform of dealing sternly with the North Korean nuclear matter by taking the South Korea-U.S.agreement further steps forward.
For Mr. Roh to do that, our society must give him utmost support, at least in the security area. He is taking the right approach on the issue. It is encouraging to see opposition legislators rebuke ruling-party legislators critical of Mr. Roh’s recent strides in the United States. The government in turn should provide the opposition with information on security and military affairs. The best response to security matters is to join forces. All the more so when we are dealing with North Korea, which tenaciously attempts to divide our public opinion.