The press has to pushIt’s lamentable not only that rough winds blowing over the sea near Baengnyeong Island are hampering authorities’ efforts to pull up the sunken Cheonan, but also that gusts of dangerous accusations are whirling about the tragedy.
Media Action, a liberal organization with 48 civil group members, recently protested in front of the Chosun Ilbo, shouting, “Chosun, Joong-Ang and Dong-A Ilbo should stop writing lowbrow fiction to scare the public. Stop misleading the public!” What really threatens society is such farfetched thinking.
In the past, conservative political groups or government organizations covered up the truth by capitalizing on boogeymen such as North Korea to gain an advantage before elections.
A good example is the Agency for National Security Planning’s involvement in the presidential election in 1997. At the time, it was revealed that the intelligence agency gave money to a Korean-American and coaxed him into playing a hoax on the voters: “Kim Dae-jung - the opposition party’s presidential candidate - received lots of money from Kim Jong-il.”
The hypothesis that the Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean attack is bolstered by circumstantial evidence: the way it sank; seismic and sound waves after the explosion; the low likelihood that the ship imploded or ran aground or fell apart from old age; testimony from the surviving crew; preliminary threats by the North, etc. Considering all those points, the most persuasive cause of the tragic incident looks like a North Korean torpedo attack.
Of course, no hard evidence has been found yet. But it’s the responsibility of the media to analyze the cause of the explosion by weighing all the circumstantial evidence. The pursuit of the truth by media and experts will definitely contribute to our determination of the necessary countermeasures and preparations for the next provocation.
Rather, it’s the people who defy such a reasonable conclusion by disregarding historical experience, common sense and solid science to cling to the least likely cause who mislead the public.
If the media don’t raise the possibility of North Korea’s involvement, it will be difficult for us to find fault with the North even if physical evidence of its involvement is found later.
Some even argue that both the government and the conservative media are trying to take advantage of the tragedy for the upcoming local elections. But such an attitude underestimates people’s ability to judge. Despite the NSP’s ill-intentioned misinformation during the presidential election in 1997, people voted for Kim. They can tell the difference between the truth and a hoax.