Hold the North accountable

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Hold the North accountable

A delegation from a South Korean committee established to fulfill the June 15, 2007, Joint Declaration by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il is scheduled to participate in a seminar at the U.S. Congress beginning today. The group will also meet with State Department officials in charge of Korean affairs and hold lectures for the Korean community in Washington, D.C., New York and other places in the United States.

The committee is a large-scale civic group that seeks the unification of Korean Peninsula. It is led by Kim Sang-keun and Chung Hyun-back, a professor of history at Sungkyunkwan University and the head of the civic group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. Composed of liberal organizations such as the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement, the group has been hosting several events to commemorate the historic summit of the two Korean leaders.

It should be noted that neither the greeting nor the speech prepared, respectively, by Kim and Professor Chung and released to the media earlier, mention North Korea’s responsibility for the sinking of the naval corvette Cheonan. Furthermore, both documents deny the accredited results of the international military and civilian investigation of the incident. The documents even go so far as to criticize the U.S. sanctions against the North. The activists’ right to express their opinion should only be exercised with care. This is especially true of issues of national security. But last month the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy sent to the United Nations Security Council a letter negating the results of the joint international probe into the Cheonan sinking. As a consequence, China blocked our efforts at the Security Council, citing the activists’ actions, and eventually the council’s presidential statement denouncing North Korea fell short of our expectations.

If the group wants to stand on a rational footing, it should first admit that North Korea was behind the Cheonan massacre and then express its views within the boundaries of protocol. The economic sanctions against North Korea and the suspension of the six-party talks all resulted from the North’s terrorist provocation. We wonder why these civilian groups do not hold accountable the entity that killed 46 of our people and why they are trying to create fissures in the international community’s measures against the North by raising unscientific questions about the results of the joint investigation. Now that they are on American soil, we hope they will learn something about how the opposition there reacted to the crisis in the U.S. on 9/11.
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