The DP misses the pointThe way in which the main opposition Democratic Party has dealt with the Yeonpyeong Island attack is disappointing.
In the early stages of the incident, the party responded to the attack by approving a National Assembly resolution denouncing the North’s aggression. The DP must have reminded itself of the strong criticism it suffered when it opposed a resolution condemning the sinking of our warship, the Cheonan. The party may have changed its mind this time, considering the magnitude of the public’s outrage.
Yet the party has adopted a strange position in the seven days since the attack. Its leadership insisted that the administration unconditionally accept China’s proposal for a resumption of six-party talks. The governments of South Korea, the United States and Japan believe that six-party talks can start only when North Korea is willing to seek denuclearization, take responsibility for the Cheonan sinking, and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island. That’s the right way to go and a majority of South Koreans also support it.
The West had supported the six-party talks in order to change North Korea through dialogue and engagement. However, after the North’s nuclear experiments, the Cheonan debacle and the Yeonpyeong attack shattered our hope for change in the North, the world is changing course. But still trapped in the shadow of the Sunshine Policy, the Democratic Party lacks the critical ability to read the changing tides, drawing criticism even within the party. Chang Sung-min, a former senior official at the Blue House under the Kim Dae-jung administration, said that the party’s insistence on dialogue with the North at a time of crisis goes against the sentiment of the people.
Under the circumstances, an antiwar exhibition titled “2010 Peace and Disarmament Conference” sponsored by Park Sun-sook, a DP lawmaker and former spokeswoman for Kim Dae-jung, is being held at the National Assembly. It hurts the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. The theme of the exhibition varies from the argument that U.S. forces intervene militarily in foreign countries to secure advance bases, to the explanation of why the public doesn’t believe what the government said about the Cheonan sinking.
The DP has launched a special committee for reform to prepare for a victory in the next presidential election. But voters will not support a political party that hardly understands what national security means.