Acceptance is first step

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Acceptance is first step

The tragic sinking of the Cheonan naval corvette on March 26 near the western sea border between South and North Korea created an overwhelming sense of sorrow and grief throughout our country.

We should use the sinking to mend any holes in our security blanket to prevent such misery again.

With that in mind, we take special note of the revelation by main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Shin Hak-yong that our military dismissed warning signs just before the North launched a torpedo attack against the Cheonan.

During the National Assembly’s regular session, focused on its audit of the government’s activities, Shin - a member of the National Defense Committee - disclosed the content of some text messages between high-ranking officers in the navy. Based on those exchanges, he argued that our military didn’t take precautionary measures after discovering that a North Korean submarine and its mother ship suddenly disappeared from the radar screen.

We are dumfounded by the military’s lax attitude, which led to the loss of 46 lives. Has our military forgotten a great lesson from the Korean War, when one of the conflict’s biggest tragedies took place amid North Korea’s massive peace initiative?

Rather than looking for solutions, the ruling Grand National Party is content advocating for the Ministry of National Defense. Some GNP lawmakers are even getting further entangled in politics, taunting their rivals by pointing out that Shin’s remarks at the National Assembly seem to signal that the DP now admits North Korea was behind the attack.

It’s regrettable that politicians seek out political advantages while we face a grave threat to national security. The GNP should instead strive to come up with concrete follow-up steps to prevent future tragedies. The Democratic Party must make its position on the Cheonan incident clear as well.

A day after Shin’s revelation, DP floor leader Park Jie-won said, “How could our military respond to a looming crisis in such an awkward way? Due to its incorrect judgment, many of our soldiers lost their lives on a patrol mission.” DP spokeswoman Jeon Hyun-heui also said that the Cheonan incident “resulted from our government’s inappropriate response to warning signs from North Korea.”

South Korea’s survival and prosperity depend heavily on national defense. Politicians should not muddy the issues with their own political interests. We must never forget how many people were forced to suffer during the Japanese invasion of 1592, which resulted from unceasing bickering between rival political factions.
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