Propaganda war resumes

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Propaganda war resumes

The outrage expressed by the reconnaissance team whose two fellow soldiers were maimed last week in the explosions of landmines placed by North Korea on the southern corridor of the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) came home to journalists at a press conference yesterday.

The soldiers who managed to survive the explosions shouted, “We desperately want to destroy the North Korean guard post across the border.”

We fully understand the fury of the soldiers who witnessed such heart-wrenching injuries visited upon their two fellow fighting men. Some may want to see our forces’ artillery open fire on the source of the provocation. Who could blame them?

But we should keep our composure as an overly emotional response only benefits the enemy. The landmine provocation is different from the North’s fatal shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea in 2010. It is difficult to define such a provocation as a first strike, even though it’s a clear violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. And if we launch a retaliatory attack, we could take responsibility for initiating a first strike.

Our Army has made the right decision by resuming its propaganda war through loudspeakers along the border. Some may say it’s too soft a reaction. But psychological warfare is what the North is most afraid of. For instance, Pyongyang reacted very sensitively to our government’s attempt to resume the anti-North propaganda campaign shortly after the deadly Cheonan sinking in 2010. It even threatened to destroy our loudspeakers along the border.

The government’s immediate resumption of the propaganda campaign through an extended area is a strong warning to Pyongyang. At the same time, the Army has issued its highest level of alert along the frontline where the loudspeakers are located. The military also vowed to conduct “a massive operation to aggressively take control of the DMZ,” including more frequent searches and reconnaissance than before.

All of these are necessary steps to reinforce our security. North Korea has been engaged in various types of provocations, as seen in the Cheonan sinking, the Yeonpyeong shelling and even sending drones into the South. To cope with the North’s unpredictability, we must always be on alert.

Also, we must reduce unnecessary domestic conflict to deal with the North effectively. Internal schisms are what Pyongyang desires most. If the tragic incident on the border offers a chance for social unity, that could be the best compensation for our traumatized soldiers.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 12, Page 34

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