Good deed can help relationsKing Munmu the Great, a South Korean destroyer deployed in Somali waters, saved a North Korean vessel from attempted piracy on Monday. The North Korean freighter was being closely followed by a pirate ship, but it avoided being hijacked after a Lynx helicopter from King Munmu the Great was dispatched immediately onto the scene. It was a successful mission, which is good news to a public worried about financial woes and strained relations with North Korea.
King Munmu the Great’s recent achievement is its second rescue, after it saved a Danish vessel in mid-April. In both instances, the destroyer carried out its mission without a hitch. It responded to distress calls, fought off pirate ships and helped secure safe routes for vessels. These successes demonstrate how capable the Korean Navy is. In particular, these victories have given the Navy the confidence it needs to become a force that operates on the open sea, a great achievement indeed and one that will enhance the Navy’s power.
We applaud what King Munmu the Great has done to protect our interests at sea while also enhancing the safety of international waters. This makes it possible for the Navy to consider conducting joint drills with vessels dispatched from Japan and China in the future, a worthy idea because the three neighbors share major sea routes, including the Gulf of Aden off Somalia.
The crew of the North Korean ship that escaped near-hijacking expressed their thanks by standing on deck and waving to the Lynx helicopter. The South’s ability to help and the North Koreans’ expression of gratitude show the humanitarianism that is possible between the two countries.
We hope that this incident will serve as a starting point for easing inter-Korean relations. In the past, South and North Korea have cooperated in many areas, giving and receiving help in a number of difficult situations. If North and South are able to treat each other in the same manner every time, a resolution to strained inter-Korean relations is possible.
Sadly, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The two Koreas still distrust one another and have created an atmosphere of confrontation. The main reason is that North Korea keeps making reckless moves. Pyongyang has detained a South Korean who works in the Kaesong Industrial Complex for more than a month and refuses to allow him to meet with representatives from the South. We hope that North Korea will release him, so that South Koreans’ perception of the North does not worsen, and perhaps will even improve. The South Korean Navy’s good deed could allow the North’s leaders to change the mood. They should not miss their chance.