[Viewpoint] A date that will live in infamy

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[Viewpoint] A date that will live in infamy

What a twist of fate for Korea! In the modern history of Korea, the date June 29 has come to carry significant meaning.

The June 29 Declaration in 1987 was a tracheotomy that restored breath to a suffocating nation. Eight years later, on June 29, 1995, Sampoong Department Store collapsed, causing a deafening roar that revealed the faults and vulnerability hidden beneath the rapid industrialization of Korean society.

Seven years later on June 29, 2002, a South Korean warship was sunk by a North Korean patrol boat in the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong. This incident, which left many sailors dead, was a vivid illustration of how dangerous a disguised peace with communists can be.

Eight years have passed now, and June 29, 2010, should be remembered as a day of warning for Koreans.

That day, the biggest opposition party in the Republic of Korea opposed the National Assembly’s resolution denouncing North Korea on the sinking of our warship Cheonan. Clear evidence has been found that a torpedo attack caused the sinking of the naval corvette, and the United States and nearly every country in Europe, Central and Latin America and Asia have condemned North Korea.

But the biggest opposition party of the victimized country refused to point fingers at the murderer. The objection was expected considering how the Democratic Party has acted since the Cheonan incident, and the move did not get much spotlight since the Sejong City vote was held on the same day, garnering more attention. Nevertheless, June 29, 2010, will be recorded as a day just as shocking as those other June 29s that came before.

The Democratic Party is the original and most prestigious opposition party in Korean politics. It was founded by conservative opposition politicians who stood against the dictatorship of Syngman Rhee in 1955. The DP persistently fought against a slew of dictatorships. During the Rhee, Park Chung Hee and Chun Doo Hwan administrations, the party confronted the government fiercely in the name of democratization.

However, during the democratic movements from the 1950s to the 1990s, the DP’s values did not deviate much from the government when it came to the national security. Leaders such as Jang Myeon, Shin Ik-hui, Jo Byeong-ok, Yu Jin-san, Kim Young-sam and Lee Cheol-seung all understood the danger of communism more precisely than anyone.

These opposition leaders knew very well that neither the DP nor the democratization movement groups could exist if national security collapsed. Lee Cheol-seung, who had been a political rival to Kim Dae-jung, was one such leader. He had been engaged in the anti-communist struggle all his life and thought that the development-driven dictatorship of Park Chung Hee was necessary to a certain degree for our national security.

We don’t have to go back to the philosophy of the older opposition leaders to know that an opposition party can exist only when there is a community. Now the DP lawmakers are chauffeured in luxury sedans, enjoy fine dining and get respected as assemblymen at home and abroad, thanks to the community and the taxpayers’ money.

But these DP lawmakers refuse to denounce the murderer that attacked their own community and killed 46 sailors. They are defending the murder. They recommended an unqualified person for the investigation team, and now they are saying that the results are not to be trusted. Meanwhile, the international community has approved the investigation, which included civilian and military experts from here and abroad.

However, the highest elite of the party who drafted the “New Democratic Party Plan” criticized the investigative body and alleged that it was controlled by the government. Those blinded by the illusion of North Korea include not only rank-and-file lawmakers but also the party chairman and other leaders who had run for president.

Which country do they represent? Whose citizens provide them with plush lives? Who are they serving?

They surely have something to count on. They just won the June 2 local elections without denouncing North Korea, and many pro-Pyongyang politicians were elected. They believe that the young voters in their 20s and 30s will support them as long as they argue, “Choose between war and peace.” Of course, they are free to follow their beliefs, and they might continue to be successful.

However, I feel the need to denounce the DP’s shocking support for Pyongyang. The party’s forefathers had been cooperative when it came to national security while working for democratization.

But now 46 sailors have had to end their short lives in the cold sea. The soul of Warrant Officer Han Ju-ho must be furious in heaven. Bearing this in mind, I must denounce in the strongest terms possible the opposition party’s actions of June 29, 2010.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

By Kim Jin
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