Simpering submissivenessThe Moon Jae-in administration is consistently keeping a low-key attitude toward North Korea. On Tuesday in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, the Air Force secretly staged an event to signal the start of deploying F-35A stealth fighter jets to air bases across the country. The Air Force plans to introduce 40 F-35As by 2021 and an additional 20 by 2025. The first phase of the procurement project alone cost a whopping 7.7 trillion won ($6.6 billion).
But President Moon and Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo did not choose to attend an event signaling the start of the significant military project. The government did not even disclose details of the event, which was orchestrated by Air Force Chief of Staff Won In-choul. We wonder why the government decided to hold the ceremony secretly despite the public’s keen interest in such an event and the massive input of taxpayers’ money represented.
One of the biggest reasons for the stealth of the event seems to be the need for the Moon administration to not provoke North Korea. In fact, the stealth fighter jets pose a serious threat to North Korea as they can strike major facilities there and kill major figures without being detected by radar. Therefore, our Defense Ministry stressed that the stealth aircraft are a core part of the so-called Kill Chain aimed at preemptively removing North Korean missiles and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation.
Because the fighter jets are a threat to North Korea, it has consistently criticized their introduction. In September, the North’s Rodong Sinmun attacked South Korea for introducing weapons that “can trigger a new Cold War” on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea denounced South Korea for “entirely violating the Sept. 19 military agreement in Pyongyang” and “brazenly declaring confrontation with North Korea” with the introduction of the fighter jets.
But what has North Korea been doing? It fired 27 missiles on 13 occasions this year alone. Recently, it has shown signs of preparing for the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile at Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province. The launch of long-range missiles directly go against United Nations resolutions and the Sept. 19 agreement.
North Korea is believed to possess 20 to 60 nuclear warheads. The recalcitrant state stipulated in its Constitution that North Korea is a nuclear power. It is even threatening Uncle Sam that it will break all agreements on denuclearization unless Washington presents a “creative solution.”
We understand the Moon administration’s desire to improve inter-Korean relations. But we should strengthen our capabilities first to defend against North Korea’s provocations. That way, our government can reassure the people. The F-35As are a symbolic means to achieve such goals. The Defense Ministry has decided not to release details of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance at high altitudes, which will arrive here soon. Why is the government being so secret? It must abandon this submissive attitude toward North Korea.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 17, Page 34