[EDITORIALS]Tragic lack of leadershipUri Party lawmakers came back from Mount Kumgang last weekend and said that, during their visit, everything was peaceful. They said fear over North Korea’s nuclear test was war propaganda created by “certain conservative groups.” What were they expecting when they went to Mount Kumgang? It’s hard to accept the information sources used by this country’s ruling party. How can they judge national security by the atmosphere at a tourist attraction? Of course, even if there had been tension on Mount Kumgang, they would have ignored it or offered an explanation which suited their political interests.
When the United States and Japan were busy preparing for the possibility of a nuclear test, a senior official at the Blue House dismissed the warnings, saying it was merely a rumor. Even 30 minutes before North Korea executed its nuclear test, the head of the National Intelligence Service, the senior-most official in charge of information, reported to the National Assembly that there were “no signs of nuclear tests.” If one fails to make an accurate prediction it’s surely natural to try for a better result next time. However, the authorities kept changing their reports about the magnitude of the blast and their guess about the site of the tests was changed three times -- each one announced as the site with no margin for doubt. If the government doesn’t have the capacity for a proper assessment of such tests they should at least have made an effort to develop one. Instead, while the United States and Japan sent out scout planes to detect radioactive materials, our government was waiting for radioactivity to float south even though they knew it would take two or three days to reach the border. Despite these deficiencies, the government reported within five hours of the test that there was no radioactive damage. Why? What is even more amazing is that the satellite Arirang 2 [Koreasat 2], which cost over 260 billion won ($272 million), was left unused. North Korea announced many times that it would begin tests, but no one ordered that Arirang 2 be used to take photos of the likely nuclear test site. This administration did not have the will to find out whether North Korea had nuclear weapons, and now it does not have the determination to block tests.
The ruling party is now making gestures that imply resistance of international sanctions, and it lacks a clear sense of direction. This is a collapse of leadership. In this crucial time, no one knows where the government is taking the country. For the people who have trusted this government to safeguard their lives and property, this is a tragedy.