[EDITORIALS]Instability causing insecurityNational Security Council Deputy Chief Lee Jong-seok made some shocking comments describing the security situation of Roh Moo-hyun administration’s early days. In a meeting with newly elected legislators of Our Open Party on Saturday, he said Korea’s security status was so bad that it resembled the economy in the late 1990s.
It may seem that Mr. Lee used rather sensational words in his explanation about the predicament diplomats and security officials had to experience in the past when dealing with difficult situations. But for those who had suffered much during the economic crisis, both physical and mental, the fact that the nation’s security was in a similar state as the late-1990s economy is shocking.
The insecurity and confusion people are experiencing are even stronger now, because in the past when experts pointed out that the Korean economy was in critical condition, at least government officials reassured the public that nothing was wrong with the nation’s economic fundamentals.
Even now, many people are saying that the alliance between the United States and Korea, the foundation of our security, is showing dangerous signs of cracking. Comments that the sudden pullout of U.S. troops in Korea were actually discussed between the two countries quite a while ago certainly does not reassure the Korean people.
In this kind of situation, remarks from a high-ranking government official that the recent security situation is worrisome will most likely deepen the sense of insecurity. Frankly speaking, issues that the government has faced from the beginning ― dispatching troops to Iraq, readjusting the alliance with the United States, moving U.S. troops from Yongsan and in the 2d Infantry Division and reducing the number of U.S. troops in Korea ― have all yet to be settled.
The government must work to understand and dispel the uneasiness of the Korean people. Current government officials try to emphasize the self-reliance aspect by saying that they are the first government in history to negotiate with the United States as an equal partner. However, they must know that these comments and the government’s position during negotiations also contribute to the insecurity.