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Lawmakers should not have cut budget for Jangjinho Battle memorial

Lawmakers should not have cut budget for Jangjinho Battle memorial

Posted November. 17, 2014 08:47,   


The budgetary subcommittee of the parliamentary National Policy Committee cut 300 million won (273,000 U.S. dollars) budget earmarked for the construction of a Jangjinho Battle Memorial, and 2 billion won (1.82 million dollars) budget for exhibits at the U.N. Peace Memorial while reviewing a budget plan from the Patriots and Veterans Affairs Ministry, sparking controversy. When Minister Park Seung-choon of the ministry visited Committee Chairman Chung Woo-taek, and protested the decision, ruling and opposition parties criticized Minister Park, which eventually forced Minister Park to apologize. However, from our perspective, it was not Minister Park but the ruling and opposition parties lawmakers who cut the budget that should have apologized.

Jangjinho Battle is combat that was staged between U.S. Marine Corps Division 1 and Chinese troops around Lake Jangjin in North Hamkyong Province from November 25 to December 11 in 1950 during the Korean War. Fighting 120,000-strong Chinese troops ten times the number of the U.S. marines unit, the latter blocked the former from advancing southward, which in turn made it possible to conduct Heungnam Evacuation, an operation that enabled more than 100,000 soldiers and over 100,000 civilians to escape to the South aboard 193 battleships. In the course of the combat, more than 7,000 people were killed or injured. The U.S. commemorates Jangjinho Battle as "a combat that required fiercest struggle (in U.S. war history)."

The ruling and opposition parties cut budget earmarked for a monument to be erected at the Korean War Memorial in the Arlington National Cemetery, saying that there are already three memorial monuments honoring Jangjinho Battle. However, all the existing monuments were erected with funds that U.S. military raised through its fundraising campaigns. The U.N. Memorial Park in Busan is a place where foreign heads of states and Korean War veterans frequently visit. A U.N. Peace Memorial was constructed at a site near the memorial park on November 11 this year, but the memorial still lacks notable exhibits on display. Some people righteously criticize that if there is a lawmaker from Jangjinho as constituency, would the project have been disregarded so harshly?

The budgetary bill adjustment subcommittee of the parliamentary Special Committee on Budget and Accounts kicked off in earnest on Sunday. The subcommittee should thoroughly examine budget bills worth 10 trillion won (9.1 billion dollars), which various subcommittees have increased primarily as budget for local constituencies where lawmakers have interest, and single out budget items that are deemed unessential. As secretaries of the ruling and opposition parties vowed, they should also completely root out lawmakers’ “memo budget” and ‘Kakao Talk budget.’ Instead, they should factor in budgets that are essential at the national level such as a Jangjinho Battle monument.

The presidential office was criticized for allegedly wasting budget by the Board of Audit and Inspection and opposition party lawmakers in connection with purchase of new items, which is shame. The presidential office might wish to disregard the criticism, saying why you are raising issue with a small budget for goods purchase only worth millions of dollars out of hundreds of billions of dollars, but a large budget can be saved by collecting pennies. In order to ensure that state-organizations do not waste even a single penny that is sourced from taxpayers’ money, the presidential office should set examples first by spending budget only on essential items.