[Viewpoint] Seeing evil where it exists

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[Viewpoint] Seeing evil where it exists

A fisherman hit upon a gift from God, the propeller of a torpedo North Korea used to sink the Cheonan warship. Heaven was on our side. Now it is up to us on land to settle the crisis.

An array of options - international condemnation, an economic embargo, a resolution by the United Nations Security Council, an apology and promise of nonaggression - are all on the table. Some people even talk of a limited military response.

But how effective will an attack on a North Korean submarine or naval base be in impairing North Korea’s military power? If North Korea promises not to repeat the provocation, as it has done in the past, will it keep its word this time? I believe not.

They have cried wolf too often to be trusted. We are the ones who should change. We must terminate this foolish cycle of reacting with a statement after we’ve been physically hit.

Evil exists in our world, and evil entities can exist among states as well as individuals. Their common trait is that they discredit the value of human lives, enforce their rules with brutality and shatter lives without guilt. Such displays of wickedness have permeated the pages of history. Nazi Germany aimed to exterminate the Jewish population from the planet and sent several million people to gas chambers as if handling garbage or filth.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks shared the same depraved motive. Under their jihad, or crusade, against Christians and Jews, Islamic extremists aimed haphazardly at innocent civilians without any shame. The mass slaughters during Stalin’s rule and Japanese Imperialistic military behavior were all in the same line.

I believe North Korea is in the same lineage of evil. The attacks on the Cheonan or a Korean Air passenger carrier are just the tip of the iceberg; the regime’s biggest crime is disregard for its own people.

The regime doesn’t blink an eye when millions of its people die of famine. The atrocities of its concentration camps are notorious. Committing crimes against humanity without any empathy is a manifestation of a fundamental evilness.

However, we have long lived in a delusion, believing that they too have feelings and are led by reason. We have been attacked more than once because we made ourselves believe that they too are humans. But they live in a different world ruled by evil, even if it is true we are of the same race.

Yet a group that sits along the axis of evil governs North Korea. We suddenly stopped calling the villain a villain. It became taboo. We instead talked of embracing the villain and helping it convert its ways so we could live side by side. It became fashionable among the intelligentsia. Engaging the villain gave people a dose of radical chic. The Sunshine Policy was a by-product of such affectation.

Governments around the world issued statements denouncing North Korea’s assault and the U.S. Congress expressed outrage, but voices among us are out of sync.

Some defend North Korea and instead blame our president and military for their incompetence. They say our leaders failed to protect the country and pushed North Korea into a corner.

Edmund Burke, the 18th-century Irish-English politician and philosopher, is generally attributed as saying, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

We have among us too many that not only do nothing against evil, but offer their services as the devil’s advocate. What has become of us? What good is economic wealth and democracy if we are sick in our hearts?

North Korean leaders will likely go unaffected by the tightened economic sanction. It will be their poor that will suffer even more. The leaders have become immune to UN sanctions and another round won’t hurt them. We must accomplish one thing this time, more urgent than punishing or condemning North Korea.

We should remind ourselves that the North Korean leadership is an evil regime. We should agree that evil must be stopped.

Evil forces usually like to bluster and bluff to hide their true cowardice. Just look at the recent visit to China by Kim Jong-il. Why so much secrecy if there is nothing to hide? It is because of fear. Kim fears that if he is exposed, the world will see his true self, an ailing dictator.

We must avoid a war. To fight an evil force, we must be as shrewd and wise as a snake. North Koreans must be motivated to stand up against their evil regime. The regime must crumble from inside to provide an opportunity for reunification and stave off intervention from China.

I agree with Michael Posner, U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, democracy and labor, in his comment that there are brave people in North Korea, who will stand up against the brutal regime as in the Soviet days and that our role is to give them breathing space.

The leaders fear leaflets and loudspeakers. Our work should be to pressure evil from within and without.

*The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

By Moon Chang-keuk
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