Off guard for three hours

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Off guard for three hours

The barbed wire fence on the frontline was crossed again. On the afternoon of January 1, an unidentified person — supposedly a civilian — crossed the heavily-armed northeastern border to North Korea. Movements were captured by our military surveillance cameras installed on guard posts in the southern section of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). But soldiers in the 22nd Infantry Division missed the person. It turned out that the moment of the crossing was belatedly noticed by soldiers monitoring CCTV cameras installed there. The episode has revealed the lax guarding by our military on the frontline once again.

The lead-up to the botched detection rings louder alarms. The sensitive military equipment on the fence did alarm the troops, but they reportedly withdrew from the fence after finding no problem with it. Because they check the wire fences on a daily basis, they can immediately affirm any suspicious traces left behind. The wire fences were reinforced more than twice after a North Korean soldier defected to the 22nd division without any interruption in 2012. If the soldiers dispatched to the site on Saturday really brushed off repeated alarms simply as signs of animal movements, that’s a bigger problem.

Our military has been repeatedly caught off guard. The tense border monitored by the division on the east coast was penetrated by a North Korean soldier in November 2020 and even by a North Korean swimmer through the East Sea last year. As a result of the nearly annual crossings, the commander and other high-ranking officers of the division were demoted. Yet such disgraceful incidents occur again. We are dumbfounded that the soldiers in the division discovered the latest crossing of the border three hours later.

Such shameful incidents took place as many as 11 times over the past two years alone. And locations do not matter. North Korean sailors crossed the East Sea and safely landed at Samcheok Harbor without being caught by the Navy and the Coast Guard. North Korean soldiers also arrived at our naval bases in Jinhae and on Jeju Island to defect and even came to the air defense unit of the Capital Defense Command. The penetration has reached serious levels. Such penetrations cannot be found in any other administrations of the past.

Such lax military preparedness primarily originates with the incomprehensible defense posture under the liberal Moon Jae-in administration. The government does not regard North Korea as our enemy. Worse, appointments of military leaders were determined by political decisions from above. As a result, commanders have shunned from establishing strong military discipline in the barracks. But if the military forgets its duty to safeguard the country, the damage directly goes to the people.
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