South-south con­flict on Korean Penin­sula

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

The word “south-south con­flict” de­scribes the dif­fer­ent — of­ten op­po­site — po­si­tions South Kore­ans take on North Korea, be of its leader, its se­cu­rity threat or how to achieve re­uni­fi­ca­tion.

The con­flict es­ca­lates when there is a ma­jor cri­sis — like the North’s tor­pedo at­tack on the South’s Cheo­nan corvette in 2010.

Some South Kore­ans still dis­pute the Seoul gov­ern­ment’s find­ing that the naval ship and 46 of its crew sank af­ter a tor­pedo at­tack from a North Korean sub­ma­rine.

Some­times op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers be­come sources of un­founded ar­gu­ments and ru­mors, which spread quickly on the In­ter­net and so­cial media.

For in­stance, there were ru­mors that the Cheo­nan struck a rock and some even raised the pos­si­bil­ity of the South Korean Navy or the U.S. per­pe­trat­ing the at­tack.

So when mil­i­tary ten­sions on the bor­der were rac­ing to their high­est point in years this past week, many wor­ried that the all-fa­mil­iar southsouth con­flict might arise over the latest cri­sis.

But what we saw was the op­po­site. There were very few who dis­puted the De­fense Min­istry’s an­nounce­ment that the land mines that maimed two South Korean sol­diers in the south­ern side of the demil­i­ta­rized zone had been planted by the North.

Nor was there any loud crit­i­cism of the Seoul gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the North’s land mine provo­ca­tion and the en­sur­ing ex­change of ar­tillery fire.

Big Credit

A big credit for this rare unity in deal­ing with North Korea could go to the main op­po­si­tion New Pol­i­tics Al­liance for Democ­racy and its leader Moon Jae-in.

Moon con­demned the North as soon as the Seoul gov­ern­ment an­nounced that the mines had been planted by the North. He paid a visit to the wounded sol­diers at hos­pi­tal.

The day af­ter the North fired ar­tillery shells to in­tim­i­date the South’s pro­pa­ganda broad­casts, Moon vis­ited a front­line town to meet res­i­dents stay­ing in a shel­ter and presided over a meet­ing of se­nior party mem­bers at the bor­der vil­lage of Imjin­gak.

Af­ter the South re­turned the North’s ar­tillery fire, the NPAD is­sued a state­ment con­demn­ing the North be­fore the rul­ing party did. Moon and the op­po­si­tion party were also very ac­tive in the adop­tion of a par­lia­men­tary res­o­lu­tion.

All this is a far de­par­ture from the past. Some de­trac­tors say the NPAD, a lib­eral party that of­ten faced crit­i­cism for ex­ces­sively sym­pa­thiz­ing with the North, is try­ing to broaden its sup­port base ahead of the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions next year and the 2017 pres­i­den­tial poll, for which Moon is a ma­jor po­ten­tial can­di­date.

Whether they had po­lit­i­cal mo­tives or not, the op­po­si­tion’s clear, con­sis­tent po­si­tion helped the na­tion rally be­hind Pres­i­dent Park and the mil­i­tary in cop­ing with the threat of an im­mi­nent armed con­flict with the North.

It is hoped that the op­po­si­tion — more broadly the po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity — up­holds such a “na­tion­al­in­ter­est-first” at­ti­tude to­ward other ma­jor na­tional agen­das too, like the pend­ing la­bor re­form talks and the econ­omy.

Pres­i­dent Park, who called in law­mak­ers of the rul­ing party for a lunch at the Blue House af­ter de­fus­ing the cri­sis, would do well to in­vite Moon and other NPAD lead­ers as well. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished by The Korea Her­ald on Aug. 29.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.