Unfriendly fireUp until a few days ago, the main opposition Democratic Party and left-wing sect refused to believe North Korea played a role in sinking the 1,200-ton warship Cheonan and killing 46 sailors. When investigators found material evidence from a torpedo propeller, liberal politicians twisted the knife by blaming the conservative South Korean government for backing North Korea into a corner.
They claimed that the Lee Myung-bak administration is responsible for escalating tension between the two Koreas and that it has done a poor job in terms of national defense. But their allegations are distorted, and it appears as though they are actually justifying North Korea’s attack.
Chung Dong-young, who is spearheading the Democratic Party’s campaign for local elections, said in a radio interview that the Cheonan crisis is a by-product of the government’s show of intolerance and antipathy toward North Korea over the last three years. Although he added that North Korea cannot be forgiven if it committed such a crime, he made an incomprehensible diagnosis of the reason for the North’s obnoxious behavior.
Blame for the chilled relations between the two Koreas during President Lee Myung-bak’s reign, however, rests solely on the shoulders of Pyongyang. North Korea shot and killed an ordinary South Korean tourist in the Mount Kumgang resort area. It refused to comply with South Korea’s rightful demand for an investigation into the incident and would not guarantee the safety of tourists. President Lee proposed a summit meeting to discuss the nuclear issue and the return of South Korean abductees and prisoners of war, yet North Korea turned it down.
It is the North that has displayed animosity and aggression toward the South, not the other way around. Even taking into account the deterioration in relations, nothing can justify an attack on a neighboring country of the same race. Chung previously served as the ruling party chairman and unification minister, having also run for the top national security post in 2007. Yet he has taken to defending a country that threatens the livelihood of our people. Other DP executive members and Rhyu Si-min, a close aide to the late President Roh Moo-hyun, have attacked the government instead of North Korea for the Cheonan sinking.
But the essence of the problem is rooted in North Korea. Criticism of incompetence in the security realm should follow later. How can these people call themselves politicians when they don’t even know the basics of security? They are taking a risky — and ultimately dangerous — gamble if they’re selling security for some votes.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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