Reprehensible threats

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Reprehensible threats

If a threat-making contest were held, North Korea would definitely be a contender. The North is presently engaged in making relentless threats aimed at South Korea and the United States. This week, it reached a new low of sorts by threatening the safety of civilian airplanes.

That warning came on Thursday when North Korea’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland announced that the North could not guarantee safety of private South Korean airplanes that fly through or around the North’s aerial territory, saying Key-Resolve, a South Korea-U.S. annual joint military exercise, had forced its hand.

Though the North’s displeasure with the exercise is nothing new, it is obvious why North Korea is ratcheting up the threats this year. The North is attempting to increase insecurity on the Korean Peninsula, cause conflict among South Koreans and put pressure on the United States to have direct talks that would exclude South Korea.

It is the same reason that the North has declared its preparation for a full confrontation with the South, said it won’t respect the Northern Limit Line - the sea border on the Yellow Sea - and has been preparing for a long-range rocket launch, maintaining its right for peaceful space development.

Despite the pressure, neither the Lee Myun-bak administration nor that of U.S. president Barack Obama will change their positions.

South Korea and the United States agree that North Korea accelerating tension on the Korean Peninsula through threats won’t help the communist country. North Korea’s leaders must be aware that the North’s threats and brinkmanship will turn public opinion against the North and that, as a result, these threats could do them harm.

Because of the measure by the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, Korea’s airplanes that used to fly through the North’s airspace now detour over the North Pacific Ocean despite increased flying times and costs. The North’s airspace was open in 1998 and if the agreement falls apart because of the North’s recent move, the responsibility lies solely with Pyongyang.

Imposing military threats on private airplanes that fly in accordance with international rules for aviation is a violation of international norms.

That is why North Korea must withdraw its threat. Our government will have to cooperate with international society and stand firmly against North Korea’s reprehensible threats.
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