Crisis calls for united frontAfter North Korea shut down the Kaesong Industrial Park following South Korea’s drastic pullout from the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean engagement, tension is rapidly building around the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has branded Seoul’s latest move as a “declaration of war thrusting the whole peninsula into an emergency.” The North’s nervous reaction paradoxically translates into its admission of huge financial damage after Seoul’s unilateral withdrawal.
The government must thoroughly prepare for potential provocations by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the most unpredictable and impulsive leader in the world. Our politicians must demonstrate mature bipartisanship in the face of an unprecedented security crisis amid a local election season, as politics exist for the good of the nation regardless of who are their supporters.
Regrettably, however, our political circles are bent on factional fights. Lee Jong-kul, floor leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party, asked whether President Park Geun-hye’s latest decision is aimed to forge hostile relations with the North. Lee appears to believe that President Park is intentionally increasing tension to seek political gains from the crisis. A minor opposition even put up a banner in downtown Seoul, which reads, “The ruling party is on a campaign to establish strategic solidarity with North Korean Workers’ Party.”
Some ruling party members also misread the current development. Saenuri’s deputy floor leader Cho Won-jin said that the opposition’s sunshine policy has failed though it may feel betrayed by the government stopping operations at the joint-venture park. Cho’s narrow-mindedness is lamentable. He should have persuaded the opposition to form a united front on the security issue instead of uttering such words as a responsible member of the ruling party.
We propose that our political leaders - including President Park and leaders of ruling and opposition parties - have a meeting and come up with a bipartisan declaration to cope with the security crisis. More urgent than consolidating their traditional support base ahead of the April 13 general election is no doubt to counter the North’s provocations.
Our political leaders must reach an agreement to give a stern warning to the North, hold it accountable for reneging on the denuclearization of the peninsula, and not seek political advantage from the current crisis. Such bipartisanship will help thwart the North’s additional provocations and calm our citizens’ anxiety. We hope they see a bigger picture and prove their raison d’etre.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 13, Page 26