Sleepwalking through crisis

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Sleepwalking through crisis

The first National Security Council meeting of this administration was held yesterday. It was disappointing in many ways. NSC officials discussed the death of a female South Korean tourist near Mount Kumgang in North Korea and the Dokdo issue, but the measures they came up with and the way the meeting proceeded were below expectations. Thus it is even difficult to understand why they held such a meeting. The NSC is the principal forum created under the Constitution, presided over by the president, for talking about foreign affairs and national security matters. The meeting should have come up with earnest plans in response to such crises and messages that the public could understand and sympathize with. But it did not.

The killing of a housewife by a North Korean guard in Mount Kumgang is an unacceptable brutality. Moreover, the government lacked risk management capacity and was late in delivering the news to the president. The public feels enraged and wretched. The government should have sent a strong warning to the North through the NSC and extended a gesture of regret.

Of course, it is understandable that the government is having a hard time with the North’s defiance. Nevertheless, if the government endlessly echoes the issues already reported in the media or makes pointless statements, how can it win public trust?

“An investigation into the truth as well as strict ways to prevent a recurrence are important,” President Lee Myung-bak said during the meeting. This was exactly what he said in a cabinet meeting two days earlier. “An agreement between North and South Korean governments should come first before Mount Kumgang tourism is resumed,” Lee also said. It seems the government presented a new principle. However, what the public wants to hear is a concrete plan for an agreement between the two Koreas, not any more talk of the obvious.

Lee also said, “We need a systematic and comprehensive pan-government control center.” He did not talk about countermeasures and how his government is going to fix things. Instead of pointless talk, the NSC should have thoroughly investigated why the shooting was reported to the president so late and people should have been held responsible. Only by doing so can discipline be tightened. In the middle of discussion on the Dokdo issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade left the meeting to attend an international conference.

This is proof of lack of discipline. Our leaders should think more deeply.
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