There’s no strategy in patienceRepercussions from North Korea’s fourth nuclear test are raising tension on the Korean Peninsula. After our military resumed propaganda broadcasts at the border, a North Korean drone had to return after our forces fired at it. In such a volatile situation, we need the commander in chief’s reassuring words. That’s why the public paid close attention to President Park Geun-hye’s Wednesday’s address to the nation.
The two pillars of a nation are its security and its economy. There’s nothing wrong about Park’s statement that both of those pillars are facing stress. The president should have delivered a resolute message befitting the keen sense of crisis she portrayed. In terms of security, however, her remarks fell short of our expectations. We must let the North pay a price for its reckless nuclear provocation, but more importantly, the president should have presented fundamental solutions to the conundrum. She didn’t demonstrate a strong determination or strategy to cut the Gordian knot.
Park said she will make every diplomatic effort to draw a tough UN resolution that includes new sanctions to bring about an attitude change in the North. As she knows that China holds the key, she put pressure on Beijing by euphemistically saying that one’s best partner holds his or her counterpart’s hand at difficult times. But despite all the efforts by our government to make friends with China, Beijing gave us the cold shoulder after last week’s test. The idea of China joining hands with us to pressure the North is wishful thinking.
The only way to resolve the North Korean nuclear threat is a dual approach in which Washington opens dialogue with Pyongyang while Beijing continues to pressure Pyongyang to turn away from the dangerous path of nuclear armaments. But President Barack Obama did not mention North Korea in Wednesday’s State of the Union address. Even when taking into account his lame duck status as a president, that’s noteworthy. He probably does not want to accept responsibility for his vacuous “strategic patience” policy, but one thing clear: the U.S. government is not willing to tackle the issue.
We must mediate a dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang and act as catalyst in inducing cooperation between Washington and Beijing. We can never solve this problem by relying on the conventional wisdom that sanctions against the North in cooperation with the international community will bring it around. We must prepare for the North’s provocations through our alliance with the U.S. It is time for us to act.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 14, Page 34