Firm resolve on North KoreaToday the 18th National Assembly enters the second half of its four-year term by electing its leadership. During the first half of the term, it was at its worst and devoid of democratic procedures. With the breakout of the tragic Cheonan sinking, both dialogue and compromise vanished, and extreme confrontation, mired in insults and violence against other parties, prevailed. In the second half of the term, we hope both the ruling and opposition parties will seek ways to weather the storm by restraining their undisciplined behavior.
The lawmakers are now faced with a mountain of tasks in the wake of their political infighting. Now, it is imperative that they reach a speedy conclusion on controversial issues like the multibillion dollar Sejong City plan and the four major rivers development project, because a huge amount of our tax money is being wasted as both parties brawl against each other.
Politics is a mechanism for hammering out solutions in tough times to pave the way for the prosperity of the nation. If one party tries to bring the other into submission by force, they will never reach a compromise. Both the ruling and opposition camps have already exchanged their views and each side understands what the other wants. But we hope they take the next step and respect each other’s differences by taking into account the sentiments of the votes as revealed in the local elections.
Their most urgent task should be to reach a conclusion on the Cheonan sinking, which took the lives of 46 sailors on a mission to protect our country. Scores of countries in the international community have already condemned North Korea for its reckless provocation by making official statements or adopting resolutions denouncing the North’s actions. Yet the National Assembly has done nothing. Now that the elections are over, the concerns about political exploitation should have faded.
At a meeting with his counterpart last Sunday, Democratic Party floor leader Park Jie-won suggested that the question of whether to adopt a resolution be discussed after the Assembly’s special fact-finding committee on the Cheonan wraps up its investigation. But the legislative body should examine what went wrong with our military’s preparedness and reaction to the sinking, not whether to adopt a resolution or not. Punishing those accountable in the military and rebuking the North are separate matters. Therefore, if the opposition continues to ignore what foreign military experts have already acknowledged, it will amount to a defiance of international efforts to address the disaster. If the opposition understands its responsibility as a representative of the people, it will move to adopt an anti-North resolution immediately.