“What we write becomes public opinion” was a notorious one of bragging rights among the journos from the Chosun Ilbo (and the rest of the CJD ring: Joong-ang and Dong-a). Though their influence has been undermined considerably along with the advent of the internet media, they still maintain a substantial power over the crowd and the government, and they still enjoy displaying it.
Sometimes their arrogance lets themselves make a ludicrous argument only to disseminate their political propaganda and this is what happened last June, around the 10th anniversary of the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong. The Chosun Ilbo laid a series of articles in pursuit of the truth of the battle. Some of them came up with a prefix EXCLUSIVE but in fact, they were platitudes badly polished up.
The Chosun’s bottom line is this: the Sunshine Policy and the Blue House diffident to North Korea are responsible for the deaths of our servicemen. Indeed there is a significant responsibility to the Blue House, given that the Blue House is the highest responsible office of national security issues. This is not the first time that the Chosun exclaims ‘take some commies down and everything will be set right then’ but this time their argument is not only invalid, groundless but also is harming the national defense, by deluding the public and the commanding officers of the military about what was the true cause of the failure in the battle of Yeonpyeong in 2002.
The birth of the tragedy was the order that is directly given by the Joint Chief of Staff, to draw the Chamsuri class patrol boat closer to the North Korean boat, which overrode the order of the commander of the Second Fleet to maintain the distance of 3 kilometers. When the patrol boat got closer to 150 meters, it took a fire from the NK boat, resulting in the deaths of the crew.
North Korean patrol boats have poor gunnery capabilities so it would have remained almost harmless if our boats had kept the distance of 3 to 4 kilometers, in which the 76 mm cannons of our patrol boats perform the best. Largely consisted of Army officers, the brains of the JCS that were ignorant of maritime operations overrode the on-scene commander, who was knowing and doing his job well, and gave a wrong order.
The truth and the responsibility that ought to follow was thoroughly covered up. When the Blue House began the fact-finding mission, the director of operation center at the JCS and the deputy commander in chief at the CFC didn’t mention the inappropriate order and put the blame upon the Navy. Later the director of operation center, Lee Sang-hee, was appointed to the first minister of defense in the newly-established MB government and the deputy commander in chief, Nam Jae-joon, joined the presidential camp of Park Geun-hye after serving as the Army Chief of Staff.
The Chosun may blame the DJ government for forbidding preemptive strike in the rules of engagement. But was this everything that led to the unnecessary sacrifice of our servicemen? Much greater vice of the Chosun series is that it teaches a false lesson to the military officers, who will be fighting the next battle.
From the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong to the ROKS Cheonan sinking and the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong, those who were responsible did not take the responsibilities. Instead, they increasingly rely upon McCarthyite smears. It is not hard to see why–because they are incompetent and they want to eschew the responsibility. To win a battle is not a job of McCarthyites or red commies. It’s the military’s job and they suck at this.