[VIEWPOINT]Roh is silent in the face of danger

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[VIEWPOINT]Roh is silent in the face of danger

On Wednesday, the prime minister hosted a luncheon for family members of soldiers killed in military operations. It was held at the official residence of the prime minister in Samcheong-dong. A total of 25 were invited to the luncheon, but many of them did not show.
Of course, there are people who would not have been able to attend such a function due to unavoidable situations, even if the president himself had extended the invitation.
However, the people who were absent included all of the family members of the six fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives in a battle against the North Korean navy in the West Sea four years ago, the same day the Korean national soccer team played in its World Cup semifinal match.
During the past four years, neither the president nor the prime minister has even once paid a visit the memorial ceremony for the fallen soldiers of the West Sea battle. It is natural, therefore, that their family members did not readily accept the belated invitation.
Since the luncheon was not only for the family members of the fallen soldiers, the function went without a hitch, at least superficially.
But intuition tells us that the very fact that our society seems to be paying no attention to the security of the nation even though North Korea has fired seven missiles in a row has to do with the social atmosphere that made the bereaved family members feel as if their the fallen heroes were slighted by society.
The insensibility to national security that is rampant in our society derives from the shamelessness of the supreme commander of Korea’s armed forces, who has not paid even one visit to a commemorative ceremony for the fallen heroes of the West Sea battle because he is so worried about what North Korea might think.
And the virus that originates from the shameless supreme commander has been multiplied by those who are in the position of dealing with security matters.
They took no action until five North Korean missiles were fired, insisting that the firing of Scud and Rodong missiles, which put South Korea and Japan in their firing range, was not a matter to be reported to the president directly.
And then, I don’t know since when these security people started to care about the security of the United States so much, but suddenly they insist they did everything they could have done, because they woke the president early in the morning according to the due procedures, when the Taepodong missile, which is said to be able to reach the United States, was fired.
This is the present status of Korea’s national security team’s lineup and its operating system.
They retort, with their voices high, that there was nothing wrong in calling a national security meeting at a leisurely pace because they didn’t want to create a stir among the population.
However, the United States called an emergency meeting hurriedly although it was Independence Day, and Japan called a meeting immediately at dawn. These people are occupying the high posts of Korea’s security and diplomatic lines.
In addition to this, there are people who say we shouldn’t make a fuss over the firing of missiles because of our national interests. It is not clear which country’s national interest they are talking about.
I cannot understand a government and president that don’t have a word of protest against the firing of a volley of missiles in the air route where South Korean civilian planes fly.
Moreover, the president, who used to comment on almost everything through the Internet, did not make any comment on a grave issue which affects the safety of the nation and the lives and fortunes of the people.
I cannot understand why he keeps silent.
I think it is really shameless and unthinkable behavior for a president, who is responsibe for protecting the lives and fortunes of the people, to keep silent.
Ultimately, the president’s attitude toward the fallen heroes of the West Sea battle has something in common with his silence in response to the North’s firing of missiles.
A president who behaves like this spreads a virus of insensibility to national security to all corners of our society.
An even more serious problem than the North Korean missiles is this insensibility to national security among the people.
We have to face the dangers and crises that break out, from the West Sea battle to the recent North Korean missile crisis.
And it should start from no one less than the president himself, the supreme commander of our armed forces.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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