[EDITORIALS]Roh’s apology sows discordPresident Roh Moo-hyun accepted North Korea’s demand for an apology. The North, therefore, said it would send its athletes and cheerleaders to the Universiade games in Daegu. It is a positive development for the success of the sports festival, but Mr. Roh’s apology raises many issues.
First, it was inappropriate for Mr. Roh to personally express regret, which means an apology in diplomacy. North Korea expressed regret over its provocations in the West Sea in which our seamen died only in the name of its chief delegate for inter-Korean ministerial talks. In contrast, the burning of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s picture was only the act of some South Korean civic groups. The government has done nothing wrong, and yet the president apologized. We cannot understand why. When a similar incident recurs, what will he do, then? Even if he made the decision to encourage the North’s participation in the games and to create an amicable atmosphere for the six-way talks, the unification minister’s expression of regret should be more than enough in this case.
The government also showed extreme confusion in reaching a decision. Mr. Roh reportedly accepted advice from concerned ministers on Monday to express regret to the North. The unification minister, however, failed to take proper action, so the president had to issue another order, the Blue House said. If that is true, why were the ministries of unification and foreign affairs perplexed at Mr. Roh’s order yesterday? Is it possible for the unification minister to disobey a presidential order? Was there really consultation between Mr. Roh and the ministers? If Mr. Roh’s decision to offer regret was an outcome of secret talks between the two Koreas behind the scenes, that is another serious issue.
North Korea evidently succeeded in sowing discord among the South Koreans. Mr. Roh ended up encouraging the North’s strategy by harming the conservatives and supporting pro-Pyeongyang groups. The North’s tactic worked perfectly, and it achieved what it wanted to do. South Korea, as a result, is thrown into ideological discord again. Is this what the president should do?