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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on March 29)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:10 March 29, 2021

Two Koreas must face new reality

After North Korea on Thursday fired two short-range ballistic missiles, the United Nations plans to discuss sanctions on the recalcitrant state in a Security Council meeting Tuesday. In his first press conference since his inauguration on Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to take a reciprocal action after the North's missile launch as it violated UN Security Council Resolution 1718. The Biden administration is expected to push for additional sanctions through the Security Council meeting.

The developments are in sharp contrast with the Trump administration that did not impose any sanction even after North Korea test-fired missiles more than 30 times after the 2018 U.S-North summit in Singapore. The Biden administration's action shows it keeps its promise to force North Korea to abide by the UN resolution that strictly bans all missile launches using ballistic missile technology.

The two missiles the North fired into the East Sea on March 25 constitute a serious provocation, as the missiles with 600-kilometer (373-mile) range can target the whole of South Korea. They are powerful enough to destroy an area three-to-four times the size of a football field. North Korea could advance its missile technology while South Korea and the United States have been sitting on their hands over the past four years.

Nevertheless, the Moon Jae-in administration's reaction is dumbfounding. After North Korea fired two cruise missiles last Monday, the government kept mum and hurriedly made it public after foreign news media reported it. When the international community denounced North Korea for violating UN Security Council resolutions, President Moon Jae-in brushed it off saying, "That is not desirable." Then, all of a sudden, the Defense Ministry changed its position and branded the ballistic missile launch a "grave threat to our national security." How could the general public trust the government under such circumstances?

Moon must squarely face a new reality. As a longtime member and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former vice president, Biden has lots of experience in North Korea policy. If Moon continues stressing dialogue with North Korea to Biden, that's not effective. Biden's position is clear. Even if North Korea fires short-range missiles, the United States sternly reacts as it poses a direct threat to the U.S. Forces Korea and its ally. If Moon unilaterally pushes his Korean Peninsula Peace Process, it will only deepen South Korea's diplomatic isolation.

North Korea also must accept a new environment. Its signature brinkmanship strategy cannot work a miracle against a leader like Biden, who is fed up with it.

We urge Pyongyang to communicate with Washington transparently to ensure survival.

(END)

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