[EDITORIALS]Matter handled badlyGunsan City, North Jeolla province, has approved a Defense Ministry application to build a system to automatically register scores of pilots at a bombing range on Jik Island. This ensures that the U.S. Air Force in Korea will have a practice range and thus resolves an urgent issue in which even the transfer of the air force to another country was mentioned. This is fortunate but regrettable in some ways.
Most of all, the government handled this matter badly. After a bombing range in Maehyangni was closed last August, the use of an alternative range was an urgent matter for the U.S. Air Force because they lacked the requisite hours of practice.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. high military officials emphasized the urgency of this issue. Thus, the Korean government should have tried its best to resolve the problem if it wanted to demonstrate there was nothing wrong with the Korea-U.S. alliance. At least, the government should have tried to persuade villagers opposed to the issue.
However, the Korean government did nothing about this. Villagers testify that government officials never visited them. It only started to hurry at the end of August, after a commander of the U.S. Air Force in Korea said that this October was the deadline. The Korean government offered 300 billion won ($317 billion) to Gunsan City as a fund for development of the city to resolve the issue. The government wasted more than a year when it could have resolved the problem in a better way.
This was the same for the transfer of the U.S. base to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi province. The Korean government did nothing when anti-American forces staged protests and performed illegal acts for more than one-and-a-half years.
The government should have persuaded people or offered support, if needed, while exercising its duties to protect law and order. It failed to react to the problem the way a decent government should.
With both Jik Island and Pyeongtaek, if the government had reacted in an appropriate way, it could have saved money, time and energy. The government should not repeat the same mistake.
Although the problem over Jik Island has been resolved, other bombing ranges have similar problems. Sometimes, it is inevitable for the central government to offer support to resolve problems. But the government cannot react this way in all matters. A more fundamental measure should be presented.