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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 13)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:11 December 13, 2019

Punishing extreme actions

It is shocking that pro-North Korea and anti-U.S. civic groups warned that they will stage a "contest to decapitate U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris" in a rally at Gwanghwamun Square. They are the very group which held a burning ceremony of an effigy of U.S. President Donald Trump when he visited Seoul in November 2017. But the burning ceremony scheduled for Friday is even more provocative. It is lamentable that the leftist group engage in widening the schisms in the alliance further and fueling internal conflict when the standoff between the United States and North Korea is ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula everyday.

The rally is orchestrated by the People's Sovereignty Solidarity (PSS) and the Youth Party, both of which have been criticizing the U.S. ambassador for "behaving as a governor to interfere with South Korea." The PSS released a poster notifying its members of the opening on Friday of a contest to decapitate Ambassador Harris. It even posted an illustration showing his head being cut off on Facebook. After controversy arose, the group deleted it, yet it is still pungently attacking the ambassador on Facebook.

After receiving a request from the two groups to stage a rally, the Jongno Police instructed them to hold the rally near exit 2 of Gwanghwamun Station and stop their planned beheading performance. But it is questionable whether they will follow the instructions. Earlier, they even staged a public bidding for many novel ideas for the performance of the day, including "pulling out each hair of the ambassador's mustache." They promised to put into action whichever idea gets the most "likes" in the rally. We are dumbfounded at the cruel way they hurl insults at the ambassador.

The two leftist civic groups also established a joint front by setting up a committee to welcome North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to Seoul in November last year. (Kim's trip to Seoul was not realized.) They also led a protest to oppose Washington's intervention in the General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia) between Seoul and Tokyo.

They aim to widen the cracks in the alliance, fuel anti-American sentiment, and strengthen voices calling for a withdrawal of U.S. Forces Korea through the rally. Such goals go against the decades-old alliance and benefit North Korea. The PSS has often cooperated with a progressive association of Korean university students to protest Washington's demand for more defense cost sharing in October. Four members of the leftist association were arrested by police for breaking into the U.S. ambassador's residence in downtown Seoul. At the time, the police were blamed for their negligence and lax security. If the government and police repeat such negligence this time, they must take responsibility. They must put the breaks on any irrational and radical actions. That's the job of the law enforcement agency.
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