No time for silenceA head of the state has a duty to protect the people’s lives and their assets. Unfortunately, recent developments are shattering public trust in President Moon Jae-in. When North Korea demolished the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong in June, his administration did nothing. When a South Korean fisheries official was fatally shot by North Korean soldiers on the West Sea last week, Moon did not react the way he should have. His administration seemed to be flattered by a weak apology delivered by the United Front Department of North Korea on Kim Jong-un’s behalf. As if to try to find any opportunity to break the deadlock in South-North talks, the government is only repeating a request for a joint investigation into the case.
The government’s approach to the case is full of mysteries. The Blue House’s explanation that Moon’s aides did not report the case to the president until the next morning dumbfounds us. An emergency meeting held by his aides and security affairs ministers in the presidential compound at 1 a.m. testifies to the graveness of the case. If so, how could the commander in chief not have been informed of the brutal homicide of an unarmed South Korean citizen by North Korean soldiers?
Despite the existence of a hotline between the two leaders, the president did not take any action. The Blue House wasted six hours from the moment of the official being captured to the moment of his death.
We are also disappointed at the way the president behaved after the murder. His only reaction was delivering a statement of “strong regret” to North Korea via a Blue House official. Moon showed tears to his compatriots in 2017 when a fisherman was killed after his boat capsized. But he is keeping mum this time. In a speech last Friday to celebrate the founding of our Armed Forces, Moon did not mention the North’s homicide. Instead, he ordered his national security advisor to read a letter from Kim on his behalf.
The ultimate goal of security policy is to ensure the people’s safety. This is not the time to keep silent. Moon must show his determination to respond to the heartrending incident and make clear what really happened in the Blue House at the time of the appalling death of the victim.