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[Opinion] Military Independence?

Posted November. 24, 2006 06:50,   


On August 27, a song of activists titled “A March for the Dear One” was being played with a heroic and touching tone at Cheong Wa Dae again. President Roh Moo-hyun was meeting with the members of the “Roh-sa-mo” (Roh supporters group) in the Gwangju Jeonnam region. When the strike song was played creating a tension, President Roh went on to talk about his national defense philosophy. The following is what a representative of Roh-sa-mo recorded and revealed.

The president mentioned the heroic tale at the beginning of his term that he had made the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division transfer in reward for the ‘mental independence’ of the Korean army. He added that the prime minister then opposed him at the time. He then said, “The Korean army will only be mentally independent when the U.S. army moves its headquarters from the center of Seoul (Yongsan) and directs the U.S. army.” This comment clearly shows that the future outlook of the Korea-U.S. military alliance, the recovery of wartime strategic control, the disbanding of the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and the reduction of the U.S. forces in Korea are all related.

But it is essentially wrong to presume that the Korean army is capable of preventing the provocation of North Korea by itself. Aware of the possibility of economic pressure from the U.S., he set his mind to moving the U.S. force rearward. He immediately welcomed the U.S. plan to reduce its forces in Korea. President Roh also added an unrealistic self-evaluation, saying, “We shouldn’t beg the U.S. to stay. In Korea-US relations, the voice and status of Korea is being strengthened.”

Does he mean to say that the Korean army needs to be driven into a risky situation with the absence of the U.S. army in order to turn it into a strong, independent army? He might be thinking that fostering a strong army is same as growing children, but while there is such a thing as another chance in the latter, defending a nation just ends if the first fails. That is why defending the nation is more important than independence or sovereign rights. And the first duty of the president is defending the nation.

Editorial Writer Yuk Jeong Soo, sooya@donga.com