[FOUNTAIN]Words that can never be taken back

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[FOUNTAIN]Words that can never be taken back

In life, there are four things you cannot turn back: the arrow that has left the bow, the word already spoken, the time that has passed and the results of your laziness.
The essence of an arrow is motion. Just as it reaches a certain point, it is on to the next. It can never go back to its initial position. An arrow also has direction, in which it will continue unless another force is applied.
Direction and motion are characteristics of the irreversible. A word is not much different from an arrow. It will hit someone’s heart, and cannot be reversed by apology. Even an unintentional, misleading comment leaves a trace. It is always remembered, imprinted in the realm of the subconscious. That is the most fundamental distinction of the words you speak.
A state’s words are even more irreversible than an individual’s. Recently, the North Korean foreign ministry declared that Pyongyang has built nuclear weapons. It is regrettable that some see this as a desperate strategy to secure a better position at the negotiation table. They seem to find the game of speech more important than the content of speech. The basis for this view is the assumption that the North will return to the “safety zone” once its negotiaiting partners are intimidated into paying a higher ransom. But that assumption has never been proven true.
As the nuclear tension enters its second decade, some people might be confusing their own assumptions with what Pyeongyang said. Assumptions are just that, and count less than what Pyeongyang has actually said. If it is true, then the South is exposed to a possible attack as devastating as that suffered by Hiroshima, if not worse. South Korea, not the United States, is within the range of the North’s nuclear weapons. In other words, the South needs a strategy to prevent such an attack, verbally, psychologically and physically.
Even if the North is lying, it would only confirm that Pyeongyang has misunderstood the irreversibility of speech. And it will have to pay the price someday. Its declaration has deeply hurt most citizens of the South. The excuse that it was necessary for survival cannot justify it, and Pyeongyang and its leader will never be forgiven. We must also remember that the results of laziness are also irreversible. If Seoul is too lazy to respond to Pyeongyang’s words, the result will inevitably be tragic.

by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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