Probe satisfies some, others have doubts

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Probe satisfies some, others have doubts

The government’s announcement that a North Korean torpedo was responsible for sinking the Cheonan provoked mixed reactions from politicians and civic groups yesterday - while family members of the 46 sailors killed aboard the sunken Navy corvette said they’d known it all along, and were just waiting for the government to admit it.

The ruling Grand National Party stated that conclusive evidence proves the North’s involvement in the disaster, and promised strong retaliation against the communist country.

“North Korea must pay the price for committing this crime,” GNP chairman Chung Mong-joon said yesterday during a party meeting.

The GNP and the main opposition Democratic Party reached an agreement to set up a parliamentary fact-finding committee to review the probe’s findings and discuss appropriate countermeasures against the North.

But at the same time, the DP and other opposition parties continued to express fierce hostility toward the government’s “lax” defense measures, and attacked President Lee Myung-bak and the ruling party, saying that the president should make a public apology for the disaster. They also attacked the GNP for scheduling the results of the probe just before the June 2 mayoral and gubernatorial elections.

“The government must take full responsibility for its poor defense which led to the loss of the 46 innocent lives,” said DP chairman Chung Sye-kyun during a radio interview yesterday. Chung added that the president must apologize to the family members of the sailors lost on the Cheonan, and that the whole cabinet should submit their resignations.

DP spokesman Woo Sang-ho went further, calling the probe results insufficient proof and questioning whether the North was involved at all.

“It would be extremely shocking if the Cheonan incident was committed by North Korea like the government announced,” he said.

Liberty Forward Party chairman Lee Hoi-chang agreed that the president should publicly apologize for the sinking, but added that any party which questions North Korea’s involvement in the Cheonan attack after the international probe does not deserve votes in the upcoming elections.

Meanwhile, most of the family members of the deceased sailors said that they trusted the findings.

“We have no objections concerning the probe from the international team because we [family members] have found through our own means and data, that the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo,” said Park Hyeong-jun, head of the committee for the bereaved family members of the Cheonan.

“All the families thought that it was the North,” said the father of late Petty Officer First Class Bang Il-min. “We were just curious as to whether the government would actually announce that they did it.”

Liberal civic groups, including Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, said that the probe results are insufficient. “We will not admit the probe results,” a member of one group said. He said that the military’s presence on the investigative team biased the results.

“The probe started after the conclusions had already been drawn,” he said.

More conservative-leaning groups, including the Korea Freedom Federation and Right Korea, however, said that they support the results of the probe and called for strict measures against North Korea.



By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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