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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Jan. 17)

All News 06:56 January 17, 2022

Don't look up?

North Korea has fired ballistic missiles three times this year. Following its earlier launches on Jan. 5 and 11 of hypersonic missiles with the speed of Mach 5 and March 10, respectively, it went so far as to release the image of two KN-23 short-range missiles lifting off from a train. As those hypersonic missiles can neutralize our interception system, it poses a serious threat to security.

After the successive launches of hypersonic missiles, the international community showed an immediate reaction. Following a joint statement on Monday by six countries, including the U.S. and Britain, Washington imposed its unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang while demanding additional sanctions on the United Nations level.

Nevertheless, the Moon Jae-in administration simply brushes off the missile threat even though the missiles can destroy South Korea if they are tipped with nuclear warheads. The government held a National Security Council meeting, but did not even use the term "provocation." The Blue House said it will "analyze the reasons for the launch without a pre-determined conclusion." On Tuesday, a senior Blue House official even stressed the importance of making an end-of-war declaration under such circumstances.

On Saturday, the government issued a press release containing a phone conversation between Foreign Minister Chung Ui-yong and his U.S. counterpart Anthony Blinken. The press release from the State Department stipulated that the North's launch of ballistic missiles constitutes a brazen violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. But our government's press release did not include any mention of provocation, threats or denunciation. Instead, it underscored the need to reactivate President Moon's Korean Peninsula Peace Process.

People compare the weird developments to Netflix film "Don't Look Up." In the movie, a president, his supporters and the media realize the danger of an approaching comet after it appears in the sky despite astronomers' persistent warnings about the possibility of its collision with the planet. After North Korea's missile launch Tuesday, President Moon expressed concern, but was wary of its impact on the March 9 presidential election.

North Korea has reportedly resumed freight transport across the border with China. The reopening of the border reflects the economic hardships North Korea faces. The United Nations reportedly has offered Pyongyang 60 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. But North Korea's missile launch is itself a serious threat. The recalcitrant state once again attempts to draw attention from the rest of the world by resorting to its signature brinkmanship. Such provocations will only help deepen the pain of the people. We urge North Korea to return to the negotiating table.
(END)

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