Kumgang tragedyPresident Lee Myung-bak suggested resuming talks with the North during his administrative policy speech at the National Assembly.
On the same day, a North Korean soldier shot dead a South Korean woman on a tour of Mount Kumgang.
The shocking nature of the death and its unfortunate timing make who was right or wrong immaterial for the moment.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government has temporarily suspended all Mount Kumgang tours until a government ad-hoc team investigates what happened.
Park Wang-ja, 53, was shot in the back and leg while walking along a beach controlled by North Korean military, north of Jangjeon Port in North Korea, according to a government press release.
She left her lodgings around 4:30 a.m. and walked into a off-limit area controlled by the North Korean military. Despite repeated orders to halt, Park was noncompliant and ran away, causing the soldier to fire, according to the release.
The question is whether lethal force was needed against an unarmed civilian, regardless of the fact that she entered a military protection zone.
It is imperative that the government sets up a thorough investigation into the precise details surrounding the event.
We need to know how Park was able to enter the area, whether warning shots were fired and if it was necessary to fatally wound the victim.
If an investigation concludes that the North acted inappropriately, it must take responsibility and action.
President Lee confirmed that he is prepared to talk with the North about implementing mutual agreements between the North and South in previous administrations.
These agreements explicitly mention the June 15 Joint Declaration between former President Kim Dae-jung and the North Korea leader Kim Jong-il. This demonstrates Lee’s strong intention to reach a breakthrough in relations between the North and South.
Now we need to know exactly what happened to cause this tragic incident in order to uphold Lee’s suggestion to resume inter-Korean dialogues. Furthermore, we need to see preventive measures in place that will prevent such a terrible event taking place again.
In order to do so, a team of investigators from the North and South should be formed, and the North must be fully involved.