Dokdo promoPrime Minister Han Seung-soo visited the Dokdo islets, the first prime minister of Korea to do so. The purpose of the visit was to express our determination to defend Dokdo, which is our territory, but is that the real reason? The trip looked like an event that the administration often undertakes on the spur of the moment without much forethought.
The administration failed to detect moves by Washington and Tokyo on Dokdo. After it realized what the Americans and Japanese had planned, the government came up with flimsy and inconsistent responses. When the Dokdo issue surfaced, the government decided to create an ad-hoc committee to administer the territory of Dokdo. Later, when the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed the classification of Dokdo to an “undesignated sovereignty,” Korea’s foreign ministry launched a task force before the ad-hoc committee was even formed. There is already another task force under the supervision of the Northeast Asian History Foundation. This clumsy response means there will be too many meetings and it is unlikely that these bodies will produce effective measures in tandem.
The government stages these kinds of political shows as if this is all it can do. In the National Security Council meeting last week, President Lee Myung-bak said it was not good to become upset and take an immediate hard line over Dokdo.
He must have meant that we should increase our capacity step-by-step and not be fooled by Japan’s intention to make the islets a disputed area.
After the president made this remark, however, the ruling party presented measures entirely opposite to the president’s words, such as sending in the Marines.
Under these circumstances, the prime minister went to the Dokdo islets, a visit that is tantamount to announcing to the world that Dokdo is a disputed area. The president cautioned against getting fooled by Japan, but the prime minister has fallen victim.
The government must not repeat the same mistake of setting up a task force belatedly, one which won’t carry out the job effectively. The government’s information network should not be weaker than that of the private organization Voluntary Agency Network of Korea or those of librarians at private universities abroad.
Most importantly, administration officials and politicians must stop conducting events for promotional purposes.
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