Minimize the falloutOur military still appears to be in confusion and disarray following North Korea’s fatal attack on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea last month. Since Korean Army Chief of Staff Hwang Eui-don suddenly resigned from his post, various rumors are pouring out of the military.
Regarding the sudden resignation, the Ministry of National Defense explained that Hwang had voluntarily offered to step down because he thought it would be inappropriate to command the Army at a critical moment when he should take the lead in military reform. The Defense Ministry added that President Lee Myung-bak accepted his offer to resign.
Going on the explanation provided by the ministry alone, the reasons for Hwang quitting remains murky.
But most observers believe that Hwang resigned under pressure from media reports, raising suspicion that he might have bought a building in the Yongsan redevelopment district illegitimate way in 2002 when he worked as spokesman of the ministry.
If General Hwang decided to quit his job because of unscrupulous behavior, which is incompatible with the Army’s chief post, it may have been such a big issue. The troubling thing is that he abruptly resigned after persistently arguing that such suspicions had already been cleared during the process of his promotion.
With regard to his sudden departure, however, conspiracy mongers are rapidly spreading a rumor that Hwang had to quit his job as part of a scheme to promote a certain general to the Army chief post.
It would be very disappointing and shameful if our military is unable to unite and rejuvenate itself when our nation faces almost a semi-war situation in the wake of the latest attack by North Korea.
The government should resolve the chaos simmering in our military as soon as possible. We are not yet sure how justifiable the conspiracy theory is. But if lots of noise is heard from inside and outside the military, it could possibly lead to a grave threat to our national security.
And if there is a sharp conflict of interest in the top echelons of the Army - and promotions or major posts are determined accordingly - it will inevitably dampen the discipline and morale of our military. Both the new Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and the Blue House should do their best to create and maintain an atmosphere in which the military can devote itself fully to the sacred mission of defending the nation.