Folding its arms

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Folding its arms

The Korean Peninsula is heading into a crisis as North Korea’s nuclear armaments are in the final stages of completion. But our government is still doing nothing. The United States has threatened to conduct a preventive strike on North Korea if its ICBMs can hit the U.S. mainland. The CIA has reported to President Donald Trump that North Korea will complete such technology within three months. If the current standoff between Washington and Pyongyang continues, we can hardly rule out the likelihood of an armed conflict in and around the peninsula, because North Korea will certainly strike back at U.S. Forces in South Korea and Japan if attacked by the United States.

Alarmed by growing signs of war, the state of Hawaii plans to conduct an evacuation drill this week following an earlier one on Dec. 1. Japan is considering similar plans. A Chinese newspaper published in the border province of Jirin advised citizens on how to prepare for a nuclear attack. After Chinese netizens became increasingly worried about such a possibility, China’s state mouthpiece the Global Times ran an editorial advising them not to worry about it because “North Korea’s first target is South Korea.”

In such a tense situation, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Tuesday downplayed North Korea’s ICBM development in an interview with CNN. She said there is no concrete evidence that North Korea has mastered technologies needed to load nuclear warheads onto ICBMs. She even called the North’s ICBMs simply “long-range missiles.”

Her understatement likely stemmed from a hope for dialogue and negotiation with the recalcitrant state since President Moon Jae-in had defined the North’s completion of ICBM technology as “crossing a red line.” The CNN journalist asked Kang if the South Korean government was burying its head in the sand.

The Blue House went a step further. A senior official said that at the moment, the government is not considering a large evacuation drill to brace for a nuclear attack from North Korea. The administration’s excessive composure seems to be aimed at creating a peaceful environment for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics. But more important than the games is our security. If the United States engages in a pre-emptive strike, North Korea will fire shells from thousands of long-range multiple rocket launchers along the border. But the government merely folds its arms. The Blue House must come up with ways to protect the people instead of turning its face away from danger.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 8, Page 38
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