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Is the gov`t proud to keep mum about Pyongyang`s threat?
DECEMBER 21, 2013 03:01  
North Korea sent a message to South Korea on Thursday through a military communication line on the west coast. The faxed message, issued under the name of the North`s powerful National Defense Commission, threatened to strike the South "without any notice" if South Koreans repeatedly provoke the North`s "highest dignity." It seems that the threat was in response to Tuesday`s anti-North Korean rally in Seoul by several conservative groups, with some members burning photos of the North`s three generations of hereditary dictators Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un. Tuesday marked the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il`s death. The South Korean military immediately replied, warning that Seoul would "sternly react" to any provocations.

Considering the unsettling situation in the North following the recent purge and execution of Jang Song Thaek, uncle-in-law of leader Kim Jong Un and the North`s No. 2 man in power, Pyongyang`s latest threat should not be taken lightly. Moreover, the fax message was sent to the National Security Council at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. The message was directly aimed at President Park Geun-hye. It was the first time that the North`s National Defense Commission sent a fax message to Cheong Wa Dae since the launch of the Park Geun-hye administration in February this year. Unlike previous threats made publicly through the North`s official media, it is unusual that Pyongyang used the military communication line without making the message public.

Nevertheless, the South Korean government kept mum about the threat until the local media reported on it. A South Korean official explained, "North Korea sent message to us without making it public. So we sent our reply without making it public, too." However, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said in public it is highly likely that the North provokes the South between late January and early March next year. The public has the right to know exactly what is going on in the current situation. Even if the government makes the North`s threat public, South Koreans do not panic as they did in the past. Rather, the government`s silence fanned the public anxiety.

President Park`s principled North Korea policy receives relatively strong public support. However, national security is the area where effective communication with the public is absolutely necessary. The president stressed on several occasions that it is not weapons but patriotism and unity that defend this country. It is regrettable that the government failed to disclose the clear threat from Pyongyang as it is. Faced with criticism for the Park administration`s indifference to communicating with the public, Lee Jung-hyun, the president`s senior press secretary, said Wednesday, "If refusing to cave in to resistance is failure to communicate, (the administration) was willing to be criticized for failure to communicate with the public. It is a proud failure to communicate." There is no such thing as "proud failure to communicate." There are only two things: proud communication and information security for national interest.

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