[EDITORIALS]Letting radicals run wildThanks to prompt measures taken by the government after the rash of illegal rallies outside U.S. military bases by the radical student group Hanchongryun, the issue has not flamed into diplomatic conflict. Yet these rallies are a blow to our sense of national security, and it is incomprehensible that no one in the government is claiming accountability.
The government is to blame for letting the situation come this far. Even when Hanchongryun did not recant its past militant line or change its methods, President Roh Moo-hyun publicly acknowledged the group and talked about calling off the search for members wanted for involvement in violence. He also raised the possibility of legal recognition. Neither the law nor the Supreme Court’s ruling that Hanchongryun benefits the country’s enemy has changed. Therefore, acknowledgement would give the impression that the government tolerates Hanchongryun’s struggle and ideological line. Even if the intention was to coax the group toward legality, there should have been plans made for what to do after legalization.
Before mounting a U.S. armored vehicle at the base at Yeongpyeong, the students threw red paint at U.S. bases and held anti-American rallies. It is absolutely incomprehensible that the group was given permission to rally outside a U.S. base. At the very least, strict rules should have been applied and contingency plans made. Yet the students were not prevented from climbing the armored vehicle. How are we to trust such authorities? Could this reluctance have come from a judgment that being lenient to Hanchongryun was the way to play up to the president’s “code?”
It is a relief that, however belatedly, the government is reconsidering its legalization plan. Unless Hanchongryun shows signs of change, any hasty move towards legalization will only create public misunderstanding. The government must use this opportunity to affirm its position on foreign policy and national security. The president’s Liberation Day speech should reflect this. Also, those responsible must be strictly disciplined, and it should not stop with a few police commanders. The problem runs much deeper.