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[Editorial] A Suspicious Reshuffling

Posted October. 26, 2006 06:58,   


A reshuffling is expected to take place in Korea’s diplomatic and security team. Reshuffling should have been already made considering their failure in a range of policies such as misjudgment on North Korea nuclear ambitions and crumbling ROK-U.S. alliance. Although it is a belated change, the new team must steer clear of confusion and appoint new figures that can give faith to the people.

However, there is a rumor that Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung, and the president’s chief security adviser Song Min-soon will be appointed to other key posts. This indeed indicates how irresponsible and shameless this government is. They are the ones who should be punished, not promoted or receive another major post.

The current team undermined national security by its failure to properly respond to North Korea’s nuclear test and haste to transfer wartime operational control (OPCON). Even after the nuclear test, it still advocated its North Korean policy of engagement, widening the chasm with the U.S. and Japan. At the US-Korea Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) last week, we belatedly begged for delay of transfer of OPCON and provision of nuclear umbrella to the U.S. only to find difference of position.

Minister Lee has been responsible for the incumbent administration’s failure in diplomatic and security policies and North Korean policies. In particular, he is the one who has led the pro-North Korean line taking an internal approach. He insists that Korea should not abandon the engagement policy, arguing Pyongyang’s nuclear test was conducted just as a means of negotiation.

Minister Yoon worsened the ROK-U.S. alliance by pushing for an early retrieval of OPCON from the U.S. and the dismantlement of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command. He said he would like to resign from his post as major issues like the wartime operational control transfer have been settled to some extent at the SCM, but nothing in fact has been settled and only confusion is left. Song, who is expected to become the next Foreign Minister, said, “The U.S. is a country which has conducted the most number of wars in human history.” This is certainly an unimaginable remark that you can expect from a diplomat. He was later asked for explanation from the U.S.

If President Roh Moo-hyun chooses to hire them again, this will be a totally irresponsible action. President Roh must not take sidesteps to give them key positions.

The new diplomatic and security team must be filled with competent experts. The reshuffling should be made with new figures who can help Korea regain creditability from relevant countries like the U.S. and recover the ROK-U.S. alliance, as well as adjust diplomatic and security policy for the sake of national interest.