NATIONAL

Opposition parties call for government action amid North’s threats

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 11, 2017 - 16:14
  • Updated : Aug 11, 2017 - 17:42
South Korea’s opposition parties on Friday reiterated their criticism of the government, claiming that it was failing to play a leading role in resolving escalating tensions with North Korea.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party accused the Moon Jae-in administration of inaction amid the verbal exchanges between the North and the US, which are raising concerns of a possible armed clash.

“US President Donald Trump is making statements hinting at a possible war, and the North is talking about firing missiles to Guam. And what the Blue House (the presidential office) is saying, that the North is being a little sensitive, shows the government’s attitude,” the party’s Vice Floor Leader Rep. Min Kyung-wook said at a party meeting.

“It is just stifling to see the government remaining as a mere spectator over the issue, and that is why we say it is ‘Korea Passing.’”

The opposition has been using the term “Korea Passing” to describe the situation in which South Korea is sidelined by other key players in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue.

Rep. Min added that the government’s stance is worsening the lack of safety awareness in Korean society. 

People’s Party interim chief Park Joo-sun (center) speaks at an emergency meeting at the National Assembly on Friday. (Yonhap)

The centrist minor opposition People’s Party urged the government to appoint the ambassadors to four major countries -- the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

“It has been almost 100 days since the president was inaugurated, and the government has not yet appointed ambassadors to the four major countries. We cannot lead in international affairs surrounding the Korean Peninsula with these four seats left vacant,” the party’s interim chief Park Joo-sun said.

During Friday’s party meeting, Park also requested the presidential office to hold a multilateral summit with party chiefs to discuss national security.

The minor splinter Bareun Party viewed the situation as critical and called for the government to raise the Defense Readiness Condition level to three from its normal four.

“Considering the degree of precision of the North’s missiles, it means that the North has just announced they will hit Guam with four ballistic missiles,” Rep. Ha Tae-keung said.

DEFCON is an alert state system that has five graduated levels of readiness for the military. When the alert level in Korea is raised from the normal state of four, wartime control automatically transfers to ROK-US Combined Forces Command.

“The government is underestimating the current situation, but war can be triggered by any unexpected factor,” Rep. Ha added.

Rep. Choo Mi-ae, the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, on the other hand, made strong remarks directed at both North Korea and the United States.

“The act of targeting a specific region (Guam) just nullifies its legitimacy, and its threat is only a delusion that will bring self-destruction,” she said, referring to the North.

Mindful of the flaring tension between the North and the United States, she also said the United States should avoid using strong words and actions, as these would only worsen the situation.

The ruling party’s Floor Leader Woo Won-shik also flatly ruled out the opposition’s “Korea Passing” claim and said that they are only trying to bring down the government’s efforts.

“The opposition parties (by going against the Moon administration) are doing what the North would like,” he said.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)