Decisive action neededWe did not expect Pyongyang to willingly admit it was behind the recent land mine explosions in the demilitarized zone that maimed two South Korean soldiers. But its audacity in accusing Seoul for carrying out the blasts as an excuse for military provocation is utterly appalling.
“Our troops would use mighty firearms instead of (planting) three land mines,” the North said, demanding that the South Korean military release video evidence to back up its claim. It was obviously basing its demand on the South Korean Ministry of National Defense statement that it did not have any video records showing North Korean intrusion.
But a UN Command investigation team has concluded that North Korea was responsible for the mines. Pyongyang is repeating the propaganda it used after its attack on the Cheonan warship in 2010 and the flight of unmanned drones last year to blame Seoul for the worsening inter-Korean relationship.
The late Hwang Jang-yop, the architect of North Korea’s Juche ideology who defected to the South in 1997, testified that during a meeting after North Korean Army officers were captured while attempting to assassinate the South Korean president and top aides using explosives during their visit to Yangon,Burma, in 1983, Kim Jong-il advised his father, Kim Il Sung, that they should flatly deny any involvement.
Since then, denial has been Pyongyang’s signature strategy. We assume current leader Kim Jongun ordered the strategy, since the latest statement came from the National Defense Commission, which he heads.
The South Korean Defense Ministry finds itself in a difficult position. It has collected debris from mines typically used by North Korea, but since it does not have any CCTV footage of North Koreans planting them, it cannot strongly assert that it was North Korea.
At the same time, such an accusation would be admitting that the South Korean military has been careless in guarding the border, if North Korean intruders can sneak in to secretly plant mines on the southern side.
The military is only repeating that North Korea will pay a dear price. Meanwhile, North Korea’s propaganda campaign can fan conspiracy theories to aggravate conflict among South Koreans. Rhetoric and warnings won’t do. The military must act decisively so that North Korea won’t repeat its deadly military provocations.