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A passive reaction

Nov 23,2017
CCTV footage released Wednesday by the United Nations Command in the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom clearly showed that North Korean soldiers violated the UN Armistice Agreement twice when a fellow soldier tried to defect to our section of the JSA. Surveillance cameras vividly captured a North Korean soldier returning to the northern section after crossing the demarcation line and four North Korean soldiers shooting numerous rounds at the defector. One of the soldiers even fired shots at him from a prone position.

North Korean soldiers fired multiple rounds and crossed the demarcation line for the first time since 1984 when a Soviet civilian tried to defect to our section of the JSA at Panmunjom. Despite strict requirements in the tense area under the jurisdiction of the UN Command, they shot as many as 40 rounds. The act should be punished as it constitutes a brazen provocation against South Korea and its alliance with the United States.

Despite the UN Command’s positive comments on our own military’s reaction, the video shows many problems on our side. Even though North Korean soldiers fired toward our territory, our Army was overly passive. North Korean soldiers started to fire at the defector at 3:15 p.m., but our military only found him at 3:31 p.m. after he fell to the ground. He was eventually rescued at 3:55. That’s not all. Despite our military’s explanation that our commander of the JSA section crawled to rescue the defector while risking his own life, the video clip showed two noncommissioned officers — not the commander — crawling to the defector.

A bigger problem is our government’s laid-back response. The Ministry of Unification said that North Korea will be held accountable for their actions according to international regulations — as if talking about someone else’ affairs. In contrast, UN Command officers strongly protested the North’s clear violations of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. The Blue House went a step further. It said the rules of engagement come under the control of the UN Command despite President Moon Jae-in’s remarks about a need for us to fire warning shots.

North Korea has violated the cease-fire agreement more than 420,000 times since 1953, including grave violations such as infiltrating armed guerillas to the South. Pyongyang has rarely apologized. Our government must demand that North Korea express its regrets and vow to not repeat it. If the Moon administration shies away from its obligations, North Korea will continue to provoke us. Then the possibility of dialogue will disappear.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 22, Page 30