JoongAng Daily, South Korea
'The United States is the Only Answer'


October 10, 2006
South Korea - JoongAng Ilbo - Original Article (English)    


Despite repeated warnings from around the world, in a mountainous area of North Hamgyong Province, North Korea has conducted a nuclear test.

This has plunged the Korean Peninsula into such extreme chaos that one cannot predict what will happen next. Global sanctions against North Korea will be agreed to and strictly implemented.

If North Korea conducts another physical provocation or the United States reacts militarily, the chaos on the Korean Peninsula will spin out of control. Sixty years after the Korean War, the nation once again endangered.

Now that it cannot be denied that Pyongyang has nuclear weapons, the national security of South Korea is at stake. Up to now, South and North have managed a military balance. This balance no longer exists.

Even if South Korea purchases countless conventional weapons systems, and even though its economy is 30 times larger than that of North Korea, there will be no way to match the North's nuclear arsenal. This is one reason North Korea has concentrated on developing such weapons.

The North's nuclear test has already impacted South Korean society, causing the stock market to plummet. South Koreans feel increasingly insecure, and the Roh Moo-hyun Administration cannot avoid responsibility for the chaos. The remarks made by President Roh and his diplomatic and national security officials have been nothing less than unbelievable.

President Roh has said, "North Korea's nuclear development is reasonable, and can be seen as a means of self-defense." Then, when North Korea test-fired its missiles, he said that the missiles 'were not aimed at South Korea.'

With his eyes firmly closed to reality and without having enough information or military competence, he has indulged in talk of "self-reliance" and has emphasized that North and South have "the same nationality." His incompetence and arrogance have resulted in a nuclear-armed North Korea.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun: His North Korea
policy and his plans for 'self reliance' in taters, will he now
repent and improve ties to the U.S.?


President Roh must fire his diplomatic and national security teams, because no matter what these officials may say and no matter what measures they may devise, no one will ever believe them. The President should realize by now that danger ahead cannot be overcome by his present staff.

President Roh also needs to change his own perceptions. Unless he wants to be remembered as a President who delivered nothing but pain and hardship to his people, he needs a clearer understanding of North Korea's intentions, its strategies and the dynamics of international society.

South Korea will be at even greater risk if North Korea provokes an incident in the Yellow Sea or on the truce line [demilitarized zone]. To escape from this emergency, all South Koreans must stay calm and work together. We should conserve our energies rather than criticize one another.

Although the Kim Dae-jung Administration and the current government bear far more responsibility than the opposition, ruling and opposition parties should prepare bipartisan measures. Inter-party rivalries must be set aside for now. People should pay due regard to national security because if national security breaks down, everything else breaks down with it.

But most of all, the administration must be on its guard. Keeping the Korean Peninsula nuclear weapons-free has now proved impossible. South Korea must undertake a diplomatic initiative to get the United States to state explicitly that it will provide South Korea with a nuclear umbrella. We hope that the United States announces this intention soon.

The North's possession of nuclear weapons will now drive Japan to obtain a nuclear weapon, leaving South Korea alone among its neighbors without them.

In that case, how can we preserve our national security? Throughout our history and right up to the present, the United States has been the only answer. Having fallen apart, the government should focus on restoring Korea-U.S. relations. Diplomatic cooperation with the U.S., Japan, China and Russia has become vitally important.

But because the Roh government has made a habit of shouting about "self-reliance," South Korea has become increasingly isolated. This must end, and the government must persuade China to effectively press North Korea.


The administration must issue a stern response to Pyongyang and must overhaul its entire North Korea policy. It should reconsider programs of economic cooperation and the exchanges that have been taking place in many sectors, including activities at the Kaesong Industrial Complex RealVideo and stop the flow of tourists to Mount Kumgangsan [Diamond Mountain RealVideo].

If the administration again hesitates to make this decision, it will find itself isolated by international society.

If North Korea reasoned that becoming a nuclear weapons state would guarantee its national security, it has made a grave misjudgment. How long does the Kim Jong-il regime think it can endure heavy sanctions, directed at it from international society? The only way to avoid the regime's collapse is to give up its nuclear weapons.