[EDITORIALS]Explosive inaction

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[EDITORIALS]Explosive inaction

The administration has reportedly made few efforts in the past 10 months to install an automatic scoring system for U.S. pilots’ bombing exercises on Jik Island, off the coast of Gunsan, North Jeolla province. Civic groups in Gunsan and residents of Jik Island and other islands nearby told the JoongAng Ilbo that the Korean Air Force had tried to persuade residents to accept the expanded use of the range but that no administration officials stepped in. This reveals why senior U.S. defense officials have taken this issue as a serious one.
The U.S. Air Force acknowledges its pilots’ competence only when they have drilled on a bombing range that is equipped with an automatic scoring system.
When a bombing range in Maehyangri, southern Gyeonggi province, was closed last August, the U.S. Air Force asked the Defense Ministry to install the system at the bombing range on Jik Island. The Korean government accepted the request.
A responsible and trustworthy administration should try its best to keep its promises, but this administration gave its word and then did nothing to keep that promise.
The administration says that installing the system has not been possible because of opposition from local residents who worry about damage to fishery, lack of resources and noise. That’s a lame excuse, when you consider the efficiency of an automatic scoring system and the words of villagers nearby.
If this system is installed, pilots will use training bombs; noise would decrease and fishing areas would widen. But the villagers say they have never heard such explanations from any government authority. The administration has done nothing, although it had sufficient basis to persuade the villagers.
Although a great number of conflicts between Seoul and Washington have been revealed, the government has always said, “There is no problem.” It was the same in this case. The U.S. secretary of defense and the commander of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command expressed their worries over this issue, but the Korean government did not pay enough attention.
Lately, the government reportedly has encouraged people involved in this matter to resolve the problem. The government should not just pretend to work on it, as it has been doing so far.
It should try its best to persuade villagers and respond resolutely to the anti-American forces who are deeply involved in the blocking action. That is the only way to find a solution to this problem.
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