Actions speak louder than wordsWe are shocked at the news that a North Korean team with a special mission to assassinate Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin, a hard-liner who insists on a strong reaction to the North’s provocations, is working in South Korea to achieve the goal. Such malicious attempts by the North are not new at all, as evidenced by its past attempts to kill our leaders: President Park Chung Hee in a raid on the Blue House (1968) and President Chun Doo Hwan at a cemetery in Myanmar (1983).
The North’s latest attempt appears to be based on our Army Reserve’s firing drills in which they used portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his son Kim Jong-un as targets. After the news broke, North Korea’s state newspaper Rodong Shinmun vehemently argued, “Using the supreme leader of our republic as shooting targets constitutes the ultimate crime” so the “puppet Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and other military thugs should be executed immediately.”
Given the North’s unique system to deify the Kim Dynasty, the latest assassination attempt must also have come from an agency in charge of espionage and maneuvers against the South.
Irrefutably, North Korea is trying to maximize the psychological impact on us before our memories of the brutal military attacks on the Cheonan warship and Yeonpyeong Island begin to fade. Through the assassination, North Korea also seems to be hoping to incite social conflict in the South over its sinking of the Cheonan, which it hopes will help augment the logic that the South Korean government’s hard-line stance against the North has resulted in the irrevocable breakdown of South-North relations.
Now the government should arrest those involved in the attempt to kill Defense Minister Kim and reveal the full picture of it, taking into account the possibility that the North’s special team might have attempted to murder other high-level officials as well. North Korea is also likely to raise tensions by shelling the tense maritime border around Yeonpyeong Island again, not to mention carrying out cyberterror against the South.
The Lee Myung-bak administration must give a stern warning to the North and proclaim its unflinching resolve to retaliate for any provocations. As Kim stressed on several occasions, the government must reaffirm its determination to hit back at the original attack point as well as the supporting troops. When it comes to national security, the most important thing for a government is action, not words.