At a time of national crisis

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At a time of national crisis

We are facing an unprecedented crisis. The 1,200-ton patrol ship Cheonan sank off the island of Baengnyeong in the Yellow Sea last Friday night. As many as 46 sailors are missing. This is a truly lamentable tragedy. They are all our sons who sacrificed their lives to protect the nation. However, search and rescue operations looking for those missing are moving at a snail’s pace due to rough seas and high winds, and the cause of the sinking has yet to be determined. The entire country is in shock.

Every citizen in Korea should remain calm and join forces to get through the crisis. This will be a test for gauging the nation’s integrated crisis management capabilities. No one can tell exactly what the exact consequences of the sinking of the Cheonan will be. But we should gain wisdom and knowledge to take appropriate steps after due consideration of all the potential possibilities in order to overcome this crisis. The worst scenario we should be prepared for is that North Korea might be involved in the ship’s sinking. A highly sophisticated recognition of reality is required as this may escalate into one of the worst events in our history, and subsequent skirmishes or even a second Korean war may follow. President Lee Myung-bak is also pondering multifaceted alternatives by holding several rounds of security-related ministerial meetings right after the accident occurred.

But the government must not lead people to skepticism about the Korean military and government. We should deal carefully with the present situation by realizing the possibility that people’s trust in the government is in imminent peril. In this vein, it was the right course of action that the government gave its highest priority to rescuing survivors. Try to understand the broken hearts of parents who sent their sons off to join the military.

There’s no such thing as “other” people’s business in the face of the terrible situation. Some parents are insisting that they will hire private divers to search for their sons, as it is not yet clear whether they are alive or not even after the lapse of 50 hours. If North Korea was indeed behind the sinking, bereaved families might ask why the government failed to prevent it.

Or they might think that it is nonsense, if it is the army’s fault. We are well aware that the authorities concerned, including the Ministry of Defense, are sparing no effort to resolve this crisis. However, if people witness armed soldiers holding parents back on the television screen, it will deal a devastating blow to the government’s earnest endeavor.

We should bear in mind that people’s trust and unity, as well as dealing effectively with the enemy, is a critical factor in the nation’s crisis management.

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