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(EDITORIAL from The Korea JoongAng Daily on Aug. 30)

All Headlines 07:00 August 30, 2016

The Minjoo’s hot potato

The newly elected leader of the opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, Choo Mi-ae, paid her respects at the graves of former presidents at the National Cemetery in Seoul.

We appreciate Choo's decision to make the visit a day after her election as party head. The visit reflects her qualifications as a responsible leader who prioritizes our nation’s continuity over ideological divisions and factionalism. She must demonstrate an equally prudent attitude when it comes to the issue of our national security.

Rep. Choo, a fifth-term lawmaker from Daegu — the turf of conservative forces in Korea — has been opposing the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system. Former leader of the party Moon Jae-in and many party members joined a chorus of dissenters to the installation of the antimissile battery in Korea.

They base their opposition on the questionable effectiveness of Thaad in intercepting North Korean missiles. They also cite the vehement resistance to the deployment by people living near where it will be based, and say that China's displeasure could boomerang on South Korea.

However, such arguments are dwarfed by the unavoidability of the deployment. Thaad supporters back the Thaad system for three reasons. First, we must prepare a multi-layered defense system considering the increasing likelihood of missile attacks from North Korea.

Second, we abandon our national security because of local people's collective actions. And third, our security cannot be held hostage to China's opposition.

The opposition camp's attacks on the government's Thaad policy are understandable. But the Minjoo Party's attempt to present its opposition as its official position through a decision reached by the supreme committee followed by a consensus in a general meeting of its lawmakers is a different matter.

Who would give a nod to the party's move to annul the government's decision without presenting any alternatives — despite the North's mounting nuclear and missile threats? If the opposition nullifies the Thaad agreement between Seoul and Washington without considering our pivotal alliance with the U.S., who would trust the party's ability to ensure our survival?

The Institute for Democracy and Policies, the Minjoo Party's think tank, kicks off a debate on Thaad today. We hope the institute reaches a conclusion that faithfully reflects other thoughtful views. Newly-elect Chair Choo must approach the issue prudently.
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