[EDITORIALS]Heads in the sand

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[EDITORIALS]Heads in the sand

The conflict between South Korea and the United States over North Korea’s counterfeiting activities is reaching a serious level. There are even different opinions now on the evidence provided by the United States related to the North’s activities.
The United States displayed confidence as it said that it was ready to explain its findings to North Korea. Nevertheless, our government disagrees with Washington, saying that no “decisive evidence,” has been provided. Day after day, senior officials from the United States have been stressing that it was a fact that North Korea was manufacturing counterfeit banknotes and circulating them. Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator at the six-party talks said that he had seen North Korean counterfeit money.
Proof has been submitted that special ink to produce the counterfeit notes had been purchased in Switzerland, and it has been disclosed that last year counterfeit bills worth $10 million had been discovered.
Nevertheless, our government has not disclosed the contents of the briefings it received from the United States. Mr. Hill said that the South Korean embassy in Washington knows the details of the briefings, but the embassy is keeping its mouth shut.
That attitude, of course, is a problem. A U.S. State Department official said that Seoul should stop playing the role of North Korea’s lawyer.
An official at the South Korean Embassy in Washington also said that there was a prevailing atmosphere in the Korean government of not accepting the reality of North Korean counterfeiting activities. These remarks prove that the government is trying to sidestep the counterfeit money issue in order not to agitate the North.
One cannot cover up the crimes of North Korea in a bid not to agitate it. Crimes need to be pointed out as crimes and one has to demand their correction. Has the government thought about the blow the government could receive from abroad if we shield the North in a crime?
Counterfeiting another country’s currency is such a serious matter that it can be a justifiable reason for the country to declare war. Thus, one has to closely monitor why the United States is pressuring North Korea over this issue. In this process, for our security, cooperation between South Korea and the United States is essential.
Still, one has to think what would happen if we give the impression that we were siding with the North. The government needs to acknowledge the seriousness of the issue.
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