September 28, 2020 13:40
North Korea on Sunday warned South Korea to stay away from its territorial waters as the South searches for the missing body of a Korean official who was slaughtered by the North after he had been adrift in the West Sea. The North was not even referring to the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, but the border it unilaterally drew on the map in 2007 and which runs further south.
Only last Friday North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a letter saying he was "greatly sorry" for the "unfortunate" incident that "should not have happened." But North Korea also accused the South of "unilateral conjecture" and "profane expressions," referring to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff report that the North doused the body in oil and set it ablaze. Of course the North Korean public has no idea that the apology was sent but got a full dose of the warnings about intruding its waters from the state media. An apology that has to be kept secret from one's own people carries very little weight.
And yet the government here was ecstatic after receiving the letter. Just a day earlier, the Minjoo Party had reluctantly joined calls to punish North Korea for its barbaric brutality. Cheong Wa Dae, which had hushed up the murder for two days, immediately scurried out of hiding and claimed the leaders of the two Koreas had exchanged friendly letters recently. The ruling party said it no longer has any reason to support a resolution it pledged to adopt condemning North Korea, Minjoo Party leader Lee Nak-yon described the North's apology as "water flowing beneath a frozen river," and the unification minister said it was "unprecedented" for North Korea to say sorry. The vice chairman of the National Unification Advisory Council said the apology offered South Korea a chance to "turn an evil into a blessing." The fact remains that North Korea murdered an unarmed South Korean civilian who had been adrift at sea overnight and then incinerated him.
The head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, which is close to the government, said Kim Jong-un is like an "enlightened monarch," sparking protests from defectors and others who think that a peculiar description of a man who has murdered at least two members of his own family. Meanwhile the head of the National Intelligence Service claimed Kim did not order the shooting and the soldiers on the boat must have acted on their own discretion. But that makes no sense given that they kept the poor man in the water for six hours before finally shooting him dead.
Struck dumb for two days after the killing, the government has suddenly become hysterically garrulous in its efforts to absolve Kim of all blame. Why does it keep dancing to Kim's tune?
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com