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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on June 10)

All News 07:11 June 10, 2020

Blind optimism

North Korea announced Tuesday that it will cut all communication lines with South Korea, including the hot line in the Blue House and sensitive military communication channels. At the same time, Pyongyang declared it would deal with South Korea as an enemy from now following an order from Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The North used the expression "enemy" for the first time since the Kim Dae-jung administration engaged North Korea with its Sunshine Policy two decades ago.

Given its mounting hostility toward South Korea, North Korea will likely resort to military provocations soon. Following a threat to scrap an inter-Korean military agreement, North Korea said it had discussed "phased belligerent steps" toward South Korea. Our military must get ready for a possible low-key provocation in the West Sea, not to mention bigger provocations, including an SLBM test.

North Korea's campaign to turn the clock back to the days of confrontation can be primarily attributed to the Moon Jae-in administration allowing groups of North Korean defectors to dispatch balloons with propaganda leaflets defaming the integrity of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But its threat to terminate the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement cannot be justified.

The pugnacious moves from North Korea are aimed at heightening tension after finding fault with the propaganda campaign — and at taming the docile Moon administration. In fact, the government and ruling party rolled up their sleeves to legislate a ban on sending leaflets immediately after Kim Yo-jong's warning. As a result, confrontation between ruling and opposition parties and the ideological divide in our society are deepening fast.

If the government continues to be so forgiving of North Korea, it cannot move forward. The Moon administration must deeply reflect on its North Korea policy over the past three years. Unless the government embarks on reviewing its stance on a fundamental level, it will be ridiculed — and excluded in any denuclearization talks — in the future.

Along with a sincere and profound review of its North Korea policy, the government must be prepared for any expected provocations from Pyongyang. We are deeply concerned about our military readiness given the alarming security lapses that have occurred since the launch of this administration. The government, military and our society should be alarmed by the dramatic about-turn by North Korea. As long as our government remains blindly optimistic, it cannot cope with the latest threats from North Korea.
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