Ruling party chief says N.K. missile launch 'unpardonable'

The chief of the ruling Democratic Party said Wednesday that it is unacceptable for North Korea to threaten neighboring nations with missile launches as she urged the communist nation to accept South Korea's dialogue offer.

"North Korea fired a ballistic missile again early yesterday morning," Rep. Choo Mi-ae said during a party meeting. "Whether it's a ballistic missile or a multiple rocket launcher, such an act that threatens neighboring nations is unpardonable."

   Choo said some people even prematurely talk about a military response to the North, but the more tensions with the North deepen, the more it is necessary to make a great turnaround in inter-Korean relations through dialogue.

"If North Korea trusts South Korea's government and holds its hands, the door will open for its survival. Otherwise, it will face more serious isolation."

   Choo also urged opposition parties not to make national security a target of partisan bickering.

"National security is a matter that should be addressed in a bipartisan manner from the perspective of national interests," she said. "We should realize that partisan bickering over national security would have bad effects on the safety of the country."

Still, opposition parties stepped up their criticism of the government over its handling of the crisis.

Rep. Lee Hye-hoon, head of the conservative minor opposition Bareun Party, urged the government of President Moon Jae-in to give up on its pursuit of dialogue with the North.

"The problem with the Moon Jae-in government's North Korea policy is that everything boils down to dialogue," she said. "It should immediately scrap such a policy."

   She also said the government should come up with how to militarily handle the situation.

"We have to work closely together with the U.S. and Japan in preparing military options," Lee said.

She also called for the government to take the lead in putting together sanctions strong enough to rock the North, such as a ban on crude shipments to the North.

Ahn Cheol-soo, newly elected head of the minor opposition People's Party, also criticized the government for not doing enough to pressure the North.

"Unconditional pursuit of dialogue does not necessarily lead to dialogue," Ahn said. "Talking about dialogue when North Korea fires missiles could send the wrong signal."

   Ahn said now is the time to send a stern signal of strong sanctions based on the Korea-U.S. alliance, source from the Yonhap.

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