Take charge of our destinyToday marks the 72nd anniversary of our liberation from Japan’s colonial rule and 69th anniversary of the founding of our nation. However, a dark cloud is hanging over the Korean Peninsula nearly seven decades after liberation. We feel deeply sorry and apologize to our ancestors, who devoted their lives to getting our country back.
The crisis simmering in the peninsula is posed to extend to a battle between the United States and China in East Asia after the confrontation between the United States and North Korea over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and missile provocations. Big powers appear to be fuelling a global crisis rather than seeking a peaceful resolution of a regional crisis.
However, the crisis is rapidly turning into a domestic battle. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s statement — “If there’s going to be a war to stop [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un], it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here.” — perfectly symbolizes the sad geopolitical fate of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea is a rogue state built on brutal executions and scare-mongering. And yet, it has become a de facto nuclear power potent enough to threaten the U.S. mainland. We are frustrated to see that the peninsula will most likely be a battleground between North Korea and the United States should both sides put their ferocious volleys of verbal threats into action.
Park Sun-won, a former security aide to President Moon Jae-in, interpreted the North’s threat to fire ballistic missiles on Guam as an intent to attack U.S. military bases in Yongsan and Pyeongtaek and occupy Seoul in the shortest possible period of time. His analysis sharply contrasts with the government, but sounds realistic. South Koreans will be the ultimate victims, whether conflict starts with a U.S. pre-emptive strike or the North attacking Guam.
In Monday’s meeting with his senior presidential secretaries, President Moon said that as peace cannot arrive through force, the North Korean nuclear problem should be solved peacefully. But he stopped short of presenting practical means and strategies to achieve that goal. A nation can be protected by force, not rhetoric. To survive in the tough jungle of international politics — even without nuclear armaments — South Korea must use the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Kim Jong-un’s jingoistic moves can only be countered by the government’s strong determination, not an expression of hope for dialogue and peace. The government must learn lessons from the painful 36-year colonial rule by Japan.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 15, Page 26