A dangerous farcePresident Park Geun-hye had her first cabinet meeting yesterday two weeks after her inauguration. But the meeting looked notably weird due to the absence of the ministers of future planning and strategy and maritime affairs and fisheries as a result of the thwarted government reorganization bill at the National Assembly. The unprecedented administrative vacuum was even deeper because heads of the national defense ministry and the strategy and finance ministry couldn’t attend because of protracted or postponed confirmation hearings in the National Assembly.
North Korea has inexorably escalated tensions to protest a new round of tougher UN sanctions and the annual Key Resolve drill, a joint military exercise between the armed forces of South Korea and the U.S. After declaring it was going to nullify the six decades-old inter-Korean armistice agreement, Pyongyang said it would cut off the telephone lines at Panmunjom. It also claimed a right to preemptive nuclear strikes.
Compared to similar provocations in the past, the new threats took on a harsher cast after the Kim Jong-un regime carried out a third nuclear test last month. Now Pyongyang is boasting that it has put miniaturized nuclear warheads onto its long-range missiles. Given that the North has conducted a cyberterror attack against the JoongAng Ilbo and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, it will likely engage in some other types of terrorist attack soon.
Yet the Park Geun-hye administration does not seem to be prepared for such provocations. Due to the opposition’s uncooperative attitudes toward her government restructuring plan, Kim Jang-soo, former defense minister and nominee to head a new National Security Office at the Blue House, cannot even attend the meeting of senior presidential secretaries. Though retired four-star general Kim Byung-kwan will surely be appointed minister of defense today, he still has to overcome all the moral flaws exposed in his confirmation hearings and establish command over the entire military.
Major positions in the new government have yet to be filled. Confirmation hearings for Nam Jae-joon, nominee to head the National Intelligence Service, still need to be fixed. No replacement has been found for Kim Jeong-hoon, who withdrew his nomination as minister of future planning and strategy. In the middle of a colossal security crisis, the new government is half-baked. Politicians must end this tragic farce at once.