The DP Needs to Grow Up

      June 18, 2010 12:37

      The EU parliament plans to adopt a resolution on Thursday condemning North Korea for sinking the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan. A draft resolution prepared by the conservative European People's Party and the center-left Socialists and Democrats points out that the torpedo attack against the Cheonan was a provocation that damages peace on the Korean Peninsula.

      And in the last few weeks, twelve U.S. senators and representatives, including 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain and 2004 Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, issued separate statements saying that North Korea's attack against South Korea is unacceptable. Their statements came on top of a House and Senate resolution regarding the sinking of the Cheonan.

      Countries in Asia and Latin America have also issued resolutions or statements denouncing North Korea for the attack.

      Only South Korea's own National Assembly has so far been unable to announce any kind of position on the attack, even though 80 days have passed since the Cheonan sank, because the main opposition Democratic Party is saying that it is not yet 100 percent sure of the results of the multinational investigation and that all suspicions about the sinking must be resolved first.

      On Monday, the 15 permanent members of the UN Security Council were briefed by the multinational team who probed the Cheonan incident at UN headquarters in New York. Composed of experts from South Korea, the U.K., Australia and Sweden, the team presented members with the evidence they found linking North Korea to the attack. At the briefing, which lasted two hours, none of the 15 permanent members raised any suspicions over the validity of the investigation. After hearing the briefing, the ambassadors of Austria, France, Japan and Turkey said the investigation was "thorough and scientific" and made them confident that North Korea sank the ship.

      Yet here DP leader Chung Sye-kyun expressed support for the group People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, which wrote to the UN Security Council raising suspicions over the Cheonan investigation. Chung said it was "within the realm of a civic group's responsibilities" to be critical of the government. The DP was the ruling party for 10 years during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations and is aiming to become the ruling party again in the 2012 presidential election. Chung's comments do not befit a party with such ambitions. Through its response to the Cheonan disaster, the DP must instill confidence in the public that it is capable of assuming leadership over the country's military. Shouldn't the main opposition party handle itself at least a little differently than a rabble of leftwing activists?

      A total of 80 countries around the world have joined the chorus of condemnation against North Korea and expressed complete confidence in the multinational probe. If the DP had strongly condemned North Korea first and then pointed out what it feels were mistakes the government made in dealing with the incident, then a majority of South Koreans would have found a new respect for the party. But it is still unable to distinguish priorities. If the DP wants to become the ruling party again, it must do better.

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