[EDITORIALS]Irrelevance from the minister

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[EDITORIALS]Irrelevance from the minister

Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung has given a strong signal that he may well delete from the ministry’s White Paper the definition of North Korea as South Korea’s main enemy. He said that it is utter nonsense for the Defense Ministry to define a “certain state” as the main enemy.
On the definition of North Korea as the main enemy, there are two opposing arguments. Those who endorse the definition believe that no other country except North Korea, which is politically and militarily confronting South Korea, poses a threat. Those who oppose the definition say that while the two Koreas confront each other along the military border, North Korea is a partner for reconciliation and cooperation.
Clearly this is a politically sensitive issue driving a wedge in our society.
The natural question is: Why would the defense minister make this remark when he knows it will stir a huge controversy? The minister’s words will further unnerve the public, when volatile discussions about whether to revise or eliminate the National Security Law have already raised fears about national security. People can easily start to question if the defense minister meant to say that he does not regard North Korea as an enemy. If the minister, who is the chief of the military, speaks in this way, soldiers keeping watch on the border will lose heart.
The military’s first duty, needless to say, is national security. We have to be methodical to the point of being inflexible. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is such that there is a risk of a vacuum in defense with the U.S. forces scheduled to gradually shrink in number. The North Korean nuclear issue can also drive up tension on the peninsula. Things are not good internally, when a wired fence along the Demilitarized Zone was found cut recently. The defense minister would be hard-pressed for time if he addressed these issues alone.
Recently, a senior Blue House official made a similar comment to our generals and earned their ire. Mr. Yoon said that it was a problem that the concept of North Korea as the main enemy was suddenly interted in our defense white paper some years ago. If that is true, would it not be creating yet another problem if he was to suddenly remove the concept from the ministry’s White Paper?
Our belief is that Mr. Yoon made the remark with the Blue House in mind. That makes it irrelevant.

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