[EDITORIALS]Failure reveals broken system

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[EDITORIALS]Failure reveals broken system

The national rage and sadness surrounding Kim Sun-il’s death are not subsiding. As the government’s incompetence and irresponsibility in this episode are exposed bit by bit, criticism escalates. Considering the significance of what occurred, this might be a natural response. But we are concerned that discussion of follow-up measures is becoming more emotional than rational and logical.
Among the heated demands from the public is that the government employees responsible be punished immediately. Of course, the government’s responsibility for not reacting properly to Mr. Kim’s abduction is massive, and personnel changes in the relevant branches are inevitable. Immediate reprimands might cool the national anger. However, they are not a solution. What is more important is to analyze which areas of Korea’s diplomatic and security systems need improvements, and to carry those improvements out. With an investigation by the Board of Audit and Inspection taking place, and another one by the National Assembly being planned, what we need to do is concentrate our efforts on reforming the systems, depending on the results of those investigations. Punishing and replacing the responsible employees should only be considered a step in these reforms.
What we need to do is analyze the nature of the incident clearly. There are two aspects to the government’s failure. One has to do with garbled intelligence and an inability to respond to events; the other has to do with discipline and order among government personnel.
The failures of intelligence and response are quite serious. The current system, which relies on loose information gathering and which makes inaccurate reports to the president himself, needs to be overhauled. Also, certain reforms that have been delayed because of power held in diplomatic, security and intelligence sectors need to take place. The distribution of Korean embassies in the world is still based on Cold War thinking, and regions that are taking on increasing importance are failing to find needed personnel, or even establish a presence. This must change. The selection process for diplomats, which has been criticized as self-preservative and aristocratic, must also change, so that regional experts are given the treatment they deserve.
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