An assassination backfires

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An assassination backfires

The murder of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday was most likely committed by an international criminal group sponsored by North Korea. National Intelligence Service chief Lee Byong-ho said at the National Assembly that Kim Jong-un ordered the assassination of his brother as long as five years ago. Our government must closely cooperate with related parties like Malaysia and Vietnam, where one of the suspects appears to have come from, to discover the truth behind the heinous crime.

The incident has far-reaching repercussions in the international community. If North Korea is behind it, the world will realize how anachronistic and dangerous the North Korean dynasty is. The assassination will lead to a further tightening of earlier sanctions to prevent Pyongyang from possessing long-range nuclear missiles. Given the apparent threat to the peace of Northeast Asia and the rest of the world, the latest episode will help strengthen the argument for regime change in the North.

If persuasion or negotiation cannot mitigate — or end — the belligerency of the North, a call for regime change will gain momentum because that is the only option left to promote world peace and improve the impoverished lives of North Koreans. Even China, a longtime ally of North Korea, can hardly extend its hands to help it survive economic isolation now. In a nutshell, the murder backfired.

Our government must deal with this crisis. It must exert diplomatic efforts to re-designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism. If the poisoning of Kim Jong-nam in a foreign country in broad daylight is not terror, what is? Moreover, the barbarian act took place when the option of a preemptive strike was being discussed in the U.S. media.

Our government must make the issue of how to deal with North Korea a global security issue at the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting ending today and the Munich Security Conference that begins today in Germany.

Seoul also must consider the idea of accusing Kim Jong-un of committing crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court (ICC) on top of earlier accusations against him for executing and torturing a number of compatriots, including his uncle Jang Song-thaek. The ICC must recognize that its raison d’etre can be attacked unless it brings him to justice.

Our presidential hopefuls must also take the horrendous crime as an opportunity to find ways to protect the security of our people.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 17, Page 30
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