[FOUNTAIN]U.S. no longer a tripwireIn the spring and autumn period, Wei Wu Zi of Jin had a young concubine named Zu Ji. Wei Wu Zi was very fond of Zu Ji and often told his son, Wei Ke, that once he died, Ke should not bury Zu Ji with him but marry her off to someone else. When the father passed away, Wei Ke remarried Zu Ji off.
Some time later, Wei Ke went to a battle and was being chased by Du Hui, a commander of Qin. All of a sudden, Du Hui’s horse tripped over grass, throwing the Qin general off his horse, and Wei Ke could distinguish himself in the battle. In a dream, Wei Ke was visited by the spirit of Zu Ji’s father, who said that he tied the grass to pay the debt of saving his daughter. It has now become folklore, this “reciprocating the kindness with tied grass.”
In a modern sense, the tied grass is a kind of a booby trap. When the tripwire is touched, a grenade or a landmine might detonate or a pit filled with bamboo spears may open up. Aside from destruction, the tripwire has that additional function of a warning. Constantin Virgil Gheorghiu’s “rabbit in a submarine” plays the same role. According to the author of “The 25th Hour,” a rabbit is very sensitive to oxygen content and its suffering will indicate the lack of oxygen before people feel it. What has played the role of another tripwire, in addition to the demarcation line and over 3 million landmines, are the U.S. troops stationed in Korea. Positioned in the route of a possible invasion by North Korea, they have been the alarm system that lets the United States automatically be involved if a war breaks out in Korea. As the 2nd Infantry Division under the Eighth Army relocated to the south of the Han River, the American role of a tripwire has ended. However, the U.S. forces are not completely out of the picture yet. The U.S. military bases in Pyeongtaek and Osan are still the first targets of North Korea’s Rodong missiles.
The idea of being a “tripwire” is the sacrifice of the U.S. soldiers, and it is not a pleasant expression to the Americans. Therefore, the U.S. Department of State has requested Seoul to refrain from using the term.
President Roh Moo-hyun told the U.S. Congressional leaders that the conservatives in Korea “wish to use the 2nd Infantry Division as a tripwire.” He reportedly warned that it is not something a true friend should do. The interests of both Korea and the United States depend on the security of the Korean Peninsula. Neither side is unilaterally making a sacrifice for the other. Even if you are well aware of the nature of the relationship, it is inevitably displeasing when you are told that your citizens are being used as scapegoats.
by Kim Jin-kook
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.