Original Version Published in SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2011. Some events of North Korean intrusion are deeply imprinted in people’s minds, such as the terrorist attack in A-Ung San and the KAL explosion in the 1980s, the North Korean submarine intrusion in 1996, the attempt to assassinate Jang-yup Hwang in 2010, and the recent Cheonan Warship and Yeonpyeong Island incidents. Because of their sporadic occurrences, these events are often regarded as impulsive aggressions from the North.
However, the recent Wang Jae-san spy incident overturns common perceptions and reveals how persistently North Korea has been preparing for the ‘Great Communization of South Korea’ – namely, the communization through warfare. If the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents in 2010 changed our awareness of national security by reviving the idea that ‘North Korea = main enemy,’ the Wang Jae-san incident makes us realize that the three-generational powers of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un have consistently been preparing for a South Korean conquest.
Much of the South Korean population has been shocked by the Wang Jae-san incident. The spy organization has been secretly operating for at least 17 years in South Korea, pushing forth anti-state and pro-North Korean activities in the administrative, legislative, judiciary, journalistic and militaristic fields. What is more shocking is that the organization has been formed under Kim Il-sung’s command in 1993. It is likely that most of the South Korean people are now dubious and concerned about the current state of national security with regards to North Korea.
However, some are still arguing the old colorisms, that the Wang Jae-san incident is a ‘red’ conspiracy to crack down unnecessarily on national security, or an investigate designed for political purposes. More specifically, they insist that this is apparently a conspiracy by the prosecutory authorities to prevent the forming of unified opposition parties in parliament. However, the North Korean problem can no longer be limited to colored expressions – ‘red’ or ‘not red’ – because concerns about North Korea are directly to concerns about national security. Divided ideologies about progressivism and conservatism only distort matters.
North Korea has already proved their aggressiveness by physically demonstrating the threats and possibilities of warfare. We were warned that the North is able to conduct cyber warfare, through incidents such as the DDoS attack, GPS disturbance mission, and destruction of the computer network at Nonghyup Bank. They push and pull skillfully between diplomatic and destructive stances. One can sense a kind of confidence in such behaviors from the North. This is perhaps due to the countless spies and their undiscerning supporters currently operating within South Korea. It is probably most relieving to the North, that there are many who will unwittingly defend North Korean actions, based on blinding color ideologies. Therefore, judging North Korea based on ideological dichotomies is in itself an action that harms national security.
During the recent Seoul mayor by-election, the political circles were shaken by rumors of Professor Ahn Chul-soo’s run for mayoralty. This is because his exceptionally high supporting rates in the polls were predicted to greatly influence the by-election between the big parties, such as the Grand National Party and the Democratic Party. On the one hand, the ‘Ahn Chul-soo Syndrome’ showed once more Professor Ahn’s popularity with the people. On the other hand, the syndrome also showed a warning signal, of how expectations and ideals about a politically inexperienced figure could cloud people’s perspectives. Furthermore, it was disappointing to see the lack of a broad, comprehensive judgment regarding the man and his popularity – instead, politicians and the public focused mainly on Ahn’s political colors.
Divided debates and competitions about ideological colors do not help in the formation of an objective and fair sense of judgment, particularly when choosing a political leader. This fact is especially relevant when making judgments about North Korea. We are the only divided nation in the world, with the North as the ‘main enemy.’ As mentioned before, the North’s intent to harm us has not changed; on the contrary, the North has become more skillful in fueling aggressions within our society. Therefore, the South Korean politician must first and foremost be able to properly read North Korea’s intentions. Obsessing over ideologies of ‘Pro-North Left or Conservative Right’ will prevent us from seeing North Korea’s attempts to disrupt the balance on the Korean peninsula. Furthermore, incidents like Wang Jae-san could be repeated.
As mentioned above, North Korea has been preparing for the communization of South Korea – 20 years ago, 30 years ago, and today. This mission shows a tendency to worsen with the worsening of internal conflicts in North Korea, such as the food crises, the currency reform and the three-generational successions of power. In order to properly confront the undemocratic and inhumane schemes of the North Korean government, there must be a leader with the right values concerning North Korean politics. This leader must first and foremost get rid of people’s colored lens in relation to North Korean problems.
We must move on from the anachronistic Cold War ideologies of “Left or Right, Progressive or Conservative.” A new system is needed for South Korean society – one that will truly take responsibility for the future and peace of the peninsula, by providing the right standards for judgment when choosing political leaders, determining if they can North Korean intentions and respond to uncertainties properly.
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