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Blind pursuit of peace

May 08,2019
The Democratic Party continues to make dangerous remarks after North Korea’s firing last weekend of short-range projectiles into the East Sea. Rep. Hong Young-pyo, floor leader of the ruling party, said it is not an issue that poses a serious threat to inter-Korean or South Korea-U.S. relations. Yet he stressed a need to offer food assistance to North Korea. Rep. Ahn Gyu-back, chairman of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, went a step further. He described it as a routine firing drill. “It is more likely that they are not short-range missiles,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Kim Jong-dae, a first-term lawmaker from the leftist Justice Party, insisted that we don’t have to make a fuss over “a tiger cub as small as a cat” even if the tests were of short-range missiles. We are dumbfounded at their denial of reality.

The best way to protect national security is bracing for a worst-possible situation. Yet the ruling party and the liberal administration are busy downplaying security risks from the missile launch. Although North Korea has voluntarily restrained itself from missile launches over the past 17 months, it has not yet abandoned its hostilities toward South Korea and the United States. Arirangmeari, a propaganda outlet of North Korea, claimed that military exercises such as a joint South Korea-U.S. military exercise in April and another alliance drill scheduled for August can destroy inter-Korean trust and push it off a cliff.

Under such circumstances, South Korea seems to be the odd man out in the trilateral security alliance among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo. On Monday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a 40-minute-long phone conversation just eight days after their April 27 summit in Washington. That’s their 30th phone call since Trump came into office in January 2017. After the conversation, Abe said he reached complete agreement with Trump on reactions to North Korea’s provocations.

Abe’s remarks testify to the solidity of their cooperation. Abe did not mention President Moon Jae-in even while bragging of his sharing of views with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Korean Peninsula issues. We wonder if our government can achieve results on such issues as the exchange of sensitive military information between Seoul and Tokyo.

The government doesn’t want to scrap its Korean Peninsula peace process. We understand that. But it can not blindly pursue peace with Pyongyang.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 8, Page 30