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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Dec. 4)

2017/12/04 07:06

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Naked to NK attack

Hawaii has conducted its first defense drill since the end of the Cold War against a nuclear attack because of North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. Hawaii is 7,300 kilometers from the North.

The U.S. Micronesian territory of Guam, located 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang, also takes the North's threat of firing missiles to form a ring of fire around it seriously. In the latest Nov. 29 test-fire, the North showed its capability to send its missile 11,200 kilometers to target Washington, D.C. , on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Alarmed by North Korean missiles flying over its archipelago, Japan has regularized its civilian defense drills, planning to conduct these drills in its capital, Tokyo, next year.

In Seoul, the South's capital about a one-hour drive from the inter-Korean border, little sign of anxiety as those occurring in Hawaii, Guam and Japan can be detected. One barometer by which the lack of seriousness can be gauged is the public antipathy for Japan's self-protective measures. Japan's preparedness is seen rather as an affront in the context of the long rivalry between Korea and Japan.

Koreans appears taking the North's growing nuclear and missile threats in stride. The civilian defense drills were systemized with legal grounds laid in 1975 but monthly nationwide drills have been reduced to twice a year. The sounding of sirens and traffic control are now felt as nuisances.

There are supposed to be 19,000 shelters across the country but few are aware of their locations or other guidelines to follow if the North attacks.

There are two reasons for the laxity. The government is reluctant to take decisive steps for fear it will cause confusion and chaos among Koreans and trigger "misunderstanding" about an imminent war abroad.

Ordinary Koreans are resigned to feeling that the North's long-range missiles won't make much difference to their already-in-jeopardy lives. Lying underneath this fear is the fact they are already hostage to thousands of North Korean artillery pieces. So it is a marriage of convenience in evasiveness of reality by the government and people.

The North Korean problem is reaching a resolution in one way or another. It is imperative that we Koreans should get prepared for the worst-case scenario and take ways to boost our survivability so as to mount counterattacks and defend our collective existence. If it comes, God forbid, to a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, it would be a conventional type at first because a nuclear war would likely be a war of last resort. So knowing where your neighborhood shelter is would still be the best first way to stay alive. The government should do its duty of protecting people's lives _ polishing up the guidelines and conducting drills more earnestly. Hawaiians, Chamorro and Japanese are sending out a wakeup call. It is time to heed it.

(END)

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