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Friday, July 07, 2006

Kyunghyang Sinmun and ROK government

Chosun Ilbo's English-language report on the recent decision of the Korea Commission for the Press about government subsidies to newspaper companies surely left the impression that Kyunghyang Sinmun is a "pro-government newspaper." As Kyunghyang does not have anything in English, many readers of the Chosun piece are not in a position to check Kyunghyang's editorial line, but let me assure that it is not "pro-government" in any sense despite of some convergences between gov't policies and its editorial positions, as it remarks in its editorial in which it protests Chosun's distortions.

It's a pity that Kyunghyang's editorials are not available in English. If I knew English better and had unlimited time in my hands I might do it every now and then. Here's one from today: "Does the government really have a policy for missiles?"; please bear with my English.
It is impossible not to be disappointed when looking at the government measures to North Korean missile launches. Can there be more irresponsible and indolent responses?

The government knew that North Korea had declared the missile landing area off-limits by radio to its fishing vessels two days before the launch. Despite that our government did not take any measures concerning our ships or airplanes. Even though the government could not be assured about the launch, government's basic responsibility is to take necessary security measures for the worst case.

At the time of the missile launch five our airplanes were flying in the vicinity of the missile landing area. Only the thought of that makes one shudder. Our government ordered the Kamchatka air route not to be used one whole day after the missile launch on the 6th of July. It is such a big contrast to Japan, which prohibited the use of the landing area for its airplanes and fishing vessels five hours after the launch.

The problem is that the government is not improving its performance, but its lack of strategy becomes all the more evident. The government was at first only 'deliberating' about the ministerial talks on July 11 in Busan, and only yesterday made the decision to open the talks. It's the same with North Korea's proposal of military talks made two days before the launch. Government kept the proposal secret and informed of its refusal on the 6th of July.

We of course understand the awkward position that the government is in. Nevertheless, the more difficult the situation, the clearer the goals and methods and the response must be in order to get the citizens' support. The government must not make explanations like "we have analyzed the situation in detail from the beginning and prepared our response" (Seo Ju-seok, Blue House national security secretary) but immediately analyse the goods and bads of its measures and clearly present its policies.

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