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[Editorial] Military lip service

Actions speak louder than words

The South Korean military is reportedly planning retaliatory countermeasures to the forewarned North Korean terror attacks. The administration’s recent hawkish position, no doubt, is in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear test and missile launch early this year.

Over the weekend, a senior military official’s remarks drew wide attention on social media. A senior defense-related official was quoted by the Herald Business, our sister news daily, as saying that “this time would be different from the past.”

The official reportedly said that the military “formerly failed to carry out counterattacks,” adding that “but from now on, immediate action will be taken against any Pyongyang-initiated terror strikes.”

The remarks are welcome, as they mean bolstering military readiness amid escalating tensions on the peninsula after Seoul pulled out its workforce from the inter-Korean industrial park in Gaeseong 10 days ago.

In similar situations worldwide, the majority of citizens back their government’s strong response when their countries are attacked by terrorists or enemies. There is no reason for the armed forces of a country to exist should they continue to tolerate a series of provocations by terrorists. Moreover, the international community cannot denounce such retaliations.

Recent cases of some countries’ reciprocal move -- though their situation was different from that of Seoul -- were confirmed in Jordan and France, both of which underwent tragedies due to the jihadist extremist group Islamic State.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry needs to play close attention to readers’ response to the article. Most of them seem to be scoffing at the military: some predicted that the government will again spend a lot of time just to verify if a terror attack was committed by the North, while others forecast the only retaliation will be the active operation of anti-Pyongyang loudspeaker broadcasts along the Demilitarized Zone.

Many readers have noted the verbal retaliation -- without action -- by the military since the 1953 armistice.

Citizens are watching President Park Geun-hye’s pledge to be more resolute and the military’s resolve on tough countermeasures.

Hopefully, in the coming weeks the Kim Jong-un regime will not conduct any major provocation despite the Park government’s closure of the Gaeseong complex. If not, there is no room for the government to step back from its “iron determination” to strike back.
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