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Courting reserve officers?

Feb 22,2017
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has brutally commanded the execution of his uncle and the assassination of his brother to cement power beyond his grandfather Kim Il Sung and father Kim Jong-il. Pyongyang ignored all diplomatic norms and denounced the findings of the murder investigation by the Malaysian authorities. Kim now looks insane enough to fire nuclear missiles at South Korea and elsewhere.

Last week’s missile launch and assassination of his half brother Kim Jong-nam in a Malaysian airport demands a redesign of Seoul’s security policy aimed at removing the reckless leadership in Pyongyang.

Amid unpredictable developments on the security front, Moon Jae-in, former head of the main opposition Democratic Party, is said to be inviting hundreds of reserve officers to form an advisory group for his election camp. He reportedly could amass at least 100 stars in the rank flag.

But the number of star-studded generals supporting him won’t appease public anxieties about the leading presidential candidate’s security policy and views. Moon remains equivocal on whether or not he approves the plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense for deterrence against North Korean nuclear missiles. It is unclear whether he still bears the thought of reactivating inter-Korean joint-venture programs like the Kaesong Industrial Complex and tourism in Mount Kumgang and visiting Pyongyang if he is elected president. He said he could not recall what his position as the presidential chief of staff was when documents showed Seoul asked Pyongyang on its position before deciding on its vote on the 2007 United Nations Human Rights resolution.

When he is challenged with North Korea-related issues, he becomes evasive and defensive, accusing others of trying to capitalize on anti-North Korean sentiment to attack him. But voters have the right to know what a promising state executive’s detailed and clear vision is on security issues. The number of stars around him does not make him a reliable commander in chief. Courting reserve officers with hopes for potential future jobs could also be demoralizing for officers on duty. The old campaign ways do not meet with the public aspirations for new politics.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 21, Page 30