Opposition’s contradictory remarks
The main opposition Minjoo Party’s reaction to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, long-range missile launch and our government’s shutdown of the Kaesong Industrial Complex is very confusing, as evidenced by its leaders’ contradictory remarks.
Former Chairman of the opposition Moon Jae-in denounced the conservative Park Geun-hye government for taking the drastic step to pull South Korean staff from the last-remaining symbol of inter-Korean engagement. The former presidential contender also lambasted the administration for seeking political gains by taking advantage of the security issue. He went so far as to assert some members of the ruling Saenuri Party clamor for our nuclear armament at the risk of war and that the Ministry of Public Safety and Security distributed public guidelines to prepare for war. He asked if the government is really trying to wage war with the North despite growing public anxiety.
The call for nuclear armament is actually shared by only a few members of the ruling camp and the government still supports denuclearization. Also, the ministry in question only distributed a citizens’ manual last month to cope with potential chemical or biological attacks from the North - a clear and present danger to us. If such preparations are wrong, should we stop even the monthly civil defense drills? Moon’s pointed remarks are nothing less than attempts to distort the government’s authorized security measures.
Minjoo Party’s Emergency Committee Chairman Kim Chong-in’s position also contradicts Moon’s. Kim warned against a knee-jerk opposition to the shutdown of the Kaesong complex given a practical need for a united reaction with the international community. During a tour of a military base on the front lines earlier, Kim also said North Korea will be “destroyed” some day.
Moon stepped down as head of the opposition after taking responsibility for its crushing defeat in last year’s by-elections and a lack of determination to reshape the embattled party. Now, he is a regular member of the opposition. As he handed over his authority, he must refrain from speaking out.
Many citizens are confused over what really constitutes the opposition’s official stance after witnessing two diverging views between former and current leaders about the North’s latest provocation. If the opposition really wants to become a trustworthy party, it must clear the confusion. Interim leader Kim also needs to go through discussions with other members of the party before speaking on major issues.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 16, Page 34