| President-elect Park Geun-hye has proposed an emergency security meeting with the presidential office and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties on coping with a looming security crisis over North Korea`s nuclear test plans. The main opposition Democratic United Party claimed that it first proposed such talks, but now is not the time to argue who introduced the idea. What is important is how parties make bipartisan efforts to unite the nation to respond in perfect order.
In a recent meeting in Seoul with former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, the president-elect promised to "resolve issues flexibly when dialogue with North Korea is necessary but will respond strongly and sternly to provocations." She intended to prevent her campaign pledge on building trust on the Korean Peninsula from being interpreted as an appeasement policy toward North Korea, to which her administration would provide humanitarian aid regardless of the political situation. President-elect Park and both parties should devise concrete measures to respond to a situation in which Pyongyang proceeds with its nuclear test despite stern warnings.
President-elect Park`s North Korea policy should be something that both the ruling and opposition party agree to. The policies of the previous and outgoing administrations failed to win broad public support in South Korea and ending up being taken advantage of by North Korea. So the next president should draw up a sustainable policy by selectively embracing her predecessors` experience and reflecting the changing security reality on the peninsula. She should consider the U.S. model, in which bipartisan efforts produced a joint report on nationally controversial issues such as the 2001 terrorist attacks and the Iraq War.
The Democratic United Party held an emergency meeting on the frontline island of Yeonpyeong Wednesday to announce a declaration opposing "acts of provocations that threaten peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, including (the North`s) third nuclear test." This was a significantly different attitude from its previous position of "reasonable doubt" over the North`s 2010 torpedo attack that sank a South Korean naval vessel. The party should have one voice with the government on the North`s nuclear threat, at least to seek China`s cooperation. Only then can Pyongyang be prevented from making a terrible misjudgment.
Seoul has often failed to properly respond to Pyongyang`s provocations due to a lack of a clear "red line." Not ruling out the use of military force including a preemptive strike if a North Korean nuclear attack is deemed imminent, can help curb Pyongyang`s penchant for committing provocations. History proves that a humiliating peace bought with money does not last long. President-elect Park`s trust-building process will prove effective only if South Korea has the power to defend itself against the North`s provocations.