Moon did the right thingPresident Moon Jae-in invited veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War to the Blue House for a lunch Monday. A Korean president having a luncheon with them at the presidential office — not at a hotel — was a first. We welcome Moon’s decision to talk with them over lunch at the Blue House.
In a speech before the luncheon, Moon said that even though the war is a part of our bitter history, South Korea safeguarded its identity by overcoming North Korea’s invasion. His remarks as the commander in chief deserve our praise given the once-popular theory that South Korea began the war or the war was induced by South Korea. After defining the war as a “struggle to fight against the violence of war together with the rest of the world to protect liberty and peace,” Moon also said, “At the center of the war was the United States, which sent the largest number of soldiers and suffered the most sacrifices.” That seemed to be aimed at easing the opposition camp’s concerns that the Korea-U.S. alliance is splintering.
Moon extended his appreciation to a soldier who took part in a landing operation in North Gyeongsang to distract the North Korean Army’s attention from the Incheon landing operation led by General Douglas MacArthur on Sept. 15, 1950.
The small landing operation led by student soldiers under the South Korean Army eventually contributed to the successful landing of tens of thousands of soldiers under the flag of the United Nations Command, a critical turning point in the war. Leftists in Korea have even denigrated General MacArthur to the extent of setting fire to his statue in Incheon City. Moon’s invitation to the veterans who helped United Nations troops during the war may reflect his Memorial Day address, in which he said, “When it comes to patriotism, there is no differnce between conservatives and liberals.” He went on to underscore that creating a peaceful Korean Peninsula is a genuine way to pay back the debt the country owes the veterans.
Today marks the 69th year since the Korean War. As nearly seven decades have passed, the war has nearly become a forgotten war particularly among our younger generation. In a Gallop Korea poll, nearly a half of the respondents in their 20s — 47 percent to be precise — were not even aware of when the war took place. Moon delivered a valuable message to the veterans and the public.
Yet President Moon has decided to not participate in a government-hosted ceremony to commemorate the devastating war today. If Moon can change his mind, he surely can send an even clearer message to the people.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 25, Page 30