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Far from `regrettable`

Posted November. 29, 2010 11:30,   


The (North) Korean Central News Agency said in an editorial Saturday, “It is very regrettable if the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island killed civilians.” This absurd excuse and use of the word “if” despite the North`s targeting of a civilian region shows Pyongyang`s clear intention to shirk global criticism of its indiscriminate shelling. A day before the comment, it boasted about its shelling capability, saying, “We precisely hit the artillery unit of the enemy (South Korea).”

Pyongyang’s expression of regret is neither a sincere apology on the damage to civilians nor a humanitarian comment. This is simply a detestable tactic that passes the buck to the South for the shelling. “Yugam (regrettable),” in other words, “feeling sorry and dissatisfied,” is one of the weakest expressions in the Korean language among terms denoting apology. Talking about expressing regret while bombing the South and killing soldiers and civilians means the North has no intent to apologize.

The news agency said, “The responsibility lies in their (South Korea’s) inhumane action that formed human shields by deploying civilians near artillery camps and military facilities.” It called Seoul inhumane, saying, “The enemy’s shells indiscriminately flew over to civilian houses that are distant from our artillery camps.”

This is the first time for the North to use the term “regrettable” after a provocation since 1976, when it brutally killed two American soldiers in Panmunjom, the border village between the two Koreas. Back then, South Korean President Park Chung-hee warned, “A crazy dog needs a club,” and Pyongyang expressed regret. This was also an ad-hoc strategic action since the North feared anger and punishment from South Korea and the U.S. This is supported by a series of the North’s actions such as provocations and terrorist activities.

Pro-North Korea activists might use the expression of regret by Kim Jong Il and his men as an excuse to urge unconditional dialogue. This, however, justifies provocations and is sophisticated psychological warfare that disrupts society. While closely looking at Yeonpyeong Island and South Korean society as aired live on TV, North Korea is now immersed in developing the next step of its psychological warfare.