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North Korean Patrol Boat Incident In Spotlight Once Again

North Korean Patrol Boat Incident In Spotlight Once Again

Posted July. 25, 2004 22:00,   


Defense Minister Cho Young-gil disclosed on Saturday that “a deliberately dropped report due to worries of a cease-fire order” was the reason why communication with the North Korean patrol boat that crossed the West Sea Northern Limit Line (NLL) was not reported. Because of this, the issue is stirring up the nation once again.

Minister Cho attended a National Defense Committee meeting at the National Assembly on the same day and said, “The navy strategic commander did not report the communication with the North Korean patrol boat because he was worried that a cease-fire would be ordered if the communication was reported to its higher unit.”

The minister continued, “The commander was also worried that if the communication sent by the North Korean boat was reported, the press would bring up the “inappropriateness of the fire,” And North Korea might take advantage of that situation to induce an internal disruption in the South.”

This is a story that completely contradicts the official announcement made on Friday by the government joint investigation team that said, “The navy strategic commander considered the North Korean transmission as an attempt to deceive, and did not report it to the Joint Chiefs of Staffs (JCS).”

Regarding this, Minister Cho emphasized, “(The report) was intentionally dropped. It was not due to negligence. This is a serious violation of military discipline and a decisive measure should be taken to assess responsibility.”

However, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Jong-min said in a briefing on Sunday, “This was told to President Roh when he received the report by the joint investigation team on Friday. According to military strategy regulations, whether to fire a warning shot or not is up to the commander of the Second Fleet. Therefore, a decision was made that such statement about the commander’s worry could not be an essential reason for the report drop, and this point was explained at the time of the report, and this has not become an issue.”

On the other hand, the Grand National Party (GNP) urged a thorough investigation regarding the statement made by Minister Cho and criticized that this incident was caused by a confusing government policy toward the North.

GNP spokesperson Chon Yo-ok insisted in a comment that “seeing President Roh and Cheong Wa Dae loosely finishing up this incident by ordering light punishments, unlike their usual practice, it is suspicious that there might exist some reason for them not to be able to disclose information openly.” Lee Jung-hyun, assistant spokesperson, demanded, “Since the report drop proves that our national identity has been seriously disturbed, President Roh should disclose all the facts related to this incident in front of the nation.”

Regarding this, the Ministry of Defense decided on Sunday to take this incident of the North Korean vessel’s border crossing and failure to report it as an opportunity to improve its report system and to enforce discipline.

The Defense Ministry decided from now on than an initial report will be reported up to two level higher units from the unit where the original incident occurred. It also decided to inspect its regular reporting system and enforce discipline accordingly.