Remember the Cheonan attackTomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of the Cheonan attack, which killed 46 sailors aboard the warship on a routine patrol off the maritime border on the Yellow Sea. The corvette, carrying a crew of 104, was split in half at 9:45 p.m. by the immense shock wave from a North Korean torpedo. A legendary underwater demolitions team sergeant and seven men on a fishing boat also died during the mission to salvage those missing in action. The attack was made in retaliation for the warship’s overwhelming victory in a sea battle with the North in 1999.
The tragic incident occurred while defending the nation. Given the grim reality of the tense confrontations with the North and our country’s mandatory draft, it could be our destiny to live with the possibility that our brothers and sons might follow in their footsteps at any time. We take the anniversary as an opportunity to remember the sacrifice of the young soldiers who lost their lives safeguarding our country. We also think about the meaning of patriotism in a time like this. We should not forget the atrocities and the mercilessness of the North.
At the same time, we must put an end to the radical group that still does not believe the North was behind the attack, despite the conclusions of a multinational investigation team - that Pyongyang was accountable for the brutal attack - after a two-month-long probe. The conclusion was also broadly backed by the UN Security Council. The “No. 1” written in Korean on the casing of the salvaged torpedo is living proof of the North’s culpability.
Lee Jung-hee is the head of the Unified Progressive Party, which has persistently denied the North’s involvement in the attack. She proposed North Korea pay tribute to the deaths of our people from the Mount Kumgang, Yeonpyeong and Cheonan attacks. Her remarks could be a last-ditch effort to save the party from a lawsuit by the ruling Saenuri Party to dissolve it for being unconstitutional. But she should have accepted Pyongyang’s accountability and called for its apology even before proposing North Korea join in to pay tribute to our sailors. A lawmaker from the main opposition Democratic Party also called for a “sincere apology and responsible action by the North for the attack if it wants a spring wind to blow on the Korean Peninsula.” Regrettably, however, the core liberal forces of the DP are still telling a different story. The new party to be merged with Ahn Cheol-soo’s supporters must show a responsible approach to the Cheonan attack and national security.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 25, Page 30.