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Exploitation for Local Elections?

Posted April. 02, 2010 17:07,   


Suspicion, political attacks and conspiracies surrounding what caused the naval corvette Cheonan to sink have emerged over the past week, encouraging more internal conflict nationwide. North Korea, which is unusually silent, has begun making military threats again. A couple of days ago, the North insisted that the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise by South Korean and U.S. forces is “training to invade” the North. “We will bury South Korean and U.S combat ships in the sea,” Pyongyang said. The North seems to be taking advantage of the Cheonan disaster and the South Korea`s shaken sense of security to step up its offensive.

Of course, the government and military in Seoul should do their best to identify the cause of the sinking, rescue the missing sailors, and respond to the crisis. This is the most urgent task. Politicians also need to focus on this as well. Many causes for concern have arisen when people look at what is going on, however. The main opposition Democratic Party has demanded the dismissal of Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and Chief of Naval Operations Kim Sung-chan over the Cheonan incident, but this seems like adding salt to injury. It is never late to hold them responsible if they have made more mistakes after the investigation. A person should never change his or her horse when crossing a fast-flowing river.

Opposition parties, certain civic groups, and the media claim that the military’s conventional comment on North Korea’s possible involvement is a conservative conspiracy to tie itself together by blaming the North. This is irresponsible, however. They seemingly want to exploit this tragedy for the June 2 local elections. All internal conflicts should stop in case of a big emergency, and heightened vigilance and removal of external risks are needed.

Civic groups have demanded that the Defense Ministry release the purpose of the Cheonan`s mission and the corvette`s journal, the communications and voyage logs, naval guidelines and manuals, clear suspicion over the alleged cause of the explosion by a sea mine or by mistake, and disclose the operational record of the Key Resolve exercise.

Part of the documents partially includes military secrets. Though the military needs to clarify the cause of the sinking and its investigation, it is too much to disclose a secret directly related to national security.

It is not right to prematurely talk whether the naval corvette Sokcho did the right thing or the combat stance of marine brigade on Baekryeong Island. The Sokcho was stationed nearby the Cheonan after the explosion occurred.

Koreans need to trust the military’s clarification and wait until the investigation ends. If suspicion is indiscriminately raised because of mistrust of the military, only the Kim Jong Il government of North Korea will like this. More maturity and discretion is needed for the sake of national security.