A laid-back responseNorth Korea fired a ballistic missile over the islands of Japan. The intermediate-range missile flew 2,700 kilometers (1,678 miles) to the east and fell into the Pacific Tuesday. The provocative move came only three days after the North fired three short-range missiles into the East Sea. The Blue House held an emergency National Security Council meeting shortly after the launch.
The North’s firing of the missile is a first step to prove the efficacy of its intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), targeting Japan and the United States. Military analysts expect North Korea to conduct ICBM tests several times to verify their capability. Pyongyang will likely come to the negotiating table with Washington after more provocations. That would make the so-called “bypassing South Korea” — leaving Seoul out of the equation — a reality. It would show the futility of President Moon’s desire to take the driver’s seat on the Korean Peninsula issues.
IRBMs, which can strike Guam and Okinawa, raises serious concerns because they can be used to block the U.S. reinforcements from reaching South Korea. If they are loaded with nuclear warheads, that promises catastrophe.
We are surprised at our government’s lethargic response. After the NSC meeting, President Moon simply ordered our military to “show off our strong ability to counter the attack.” In sharp contrast, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately talked with U.S. President Donald Trump on the phone to discuss countermeasures. Moon did not. Tokyo even recommended residents in the north of Japan to take shelter as the missile flew.
The Blue House downplaying the threat only makes our people more insecure.
The latest missile launch is just part of Pyongyang’s push for the perfection of its IRBM and ICBM technology. It is feared that it will soon conduct a sixth nuclear test. At critical times like this, our alliance with the United States is more important then ever. Moon must abandon his wishful thinking that Pyongyang will still want dialogue with Seoul. As agreed between Trump and Abe in their phone conversation Tuesday, this is hardly the time to have dialogue with the maverick state across the border. The government must put more pressure on it through cooperation with Beijing. Otherwise, a tsunami will hit South Korea when North Korea completes its missile and nuclear technology.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 30, Page 30