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The eccentric national defense daily

Posted April. 19, 2001 18:50,   


It is a grave incident, and not a mere happening or mistake, that the Kookbang Ilbo, or the National Defense Daily, whose subscribers are 600,000 men and officers of the Korean Armed Forces, has introduced North Korea`s revolutionary musical, the Sea of Blood, as a masterpiece. This is because the paper`s article represents a blatant example of how lax the country`s military discipline has become in the wake of the inter-Korean summit talks. There is great apprehension about where this country is heading. In the Mar. 22 edition, the newspaper, reporting on the North`s 1,500th performance of the Sea of Blood, asserted that the musical is a revolutionary masterpiece with profound contents expressing the consummation of the juchae (self-reliant) ideology. The paper also attached a sub-heading reading ``a perfect masterpiece embodying the juchae ideology guided by the late president Kim Il-Sung.`` In a nutshell, we were dumfounded to read the article. As we know, North Korea`s revolutionary musicals are a means of propagating the juchae thought and ideal of the communized unification of Korea, and the Sea of Blood is the most typical example of the five most popular revolutionary musicals including the Flower-Selling Girl, A Genuine Daughter of the Party and the Song of Mt. Kumgang. It is perplexing to consider what the reactions of the men and officers in the frontline will be when they read this eccentric article.

The Kookbang Ilbo, published by the Defense Agency for Public Information Services under the roof of the Defense Ministry, was inaugurated on Nov. 16, 1964, and prints 125,000 copies per day. According to the ministry`s internet site, the paper has the function of providing guidance and enlightenment to military personnel and publicity vis-a-vis the general public. Two copies of the paper are distributed to every military unit. Defense Minister Kim Dong-Shin has explained that the paper reproduced the article, which had been carried by local papers, in order to keep soldiers informed of the North Korean situation. However, his statement falls far short of excusing why the military`s official mouthpiece came to carry such an article. Undeniably, there are concerned voices being raised over the current atmosphere in which national security is being neglected, especially following the inter-Korean summit. Does not this phenomenon stem from the government`s attempts to avoid provocation of the North in its quest for inter-Korean dialogue? In this context, unification minister Lim Dong-Won said in his reply at the National Assembly session Apr. 10 that no countries use the concept of main enemy and that the terminology is used only at a time of war. As the chief North Korean policy maker, minister Lim`s remarks are enough to weaken the security consciousness of the military and cause the people uneasiness.

The situation surrounding the Korean peninsula is now rapidly changing, and the truce line is the most heavily armed place in the world. At this juncture, the maintenance of an integral security posture is all the more important. Admittedly, inter-Korean reconciliation is desirable, yet dialogue will gain steam only when it is backed up by strong security. As far as the controversial article is concerned, the defense ministry should not dismiss the case as a mere mistake, but it should conduct a thorough investigation and make it the stimulus for establishing a firm defense posture.