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A Memorial to Be Constructed During Presidency

Posted April. 17, 2007 08:05,   


A tentatively named “Roh Moo-hyun Memorial Library” will be built in Inje University to honor the accomplishments achieved by President Roh during his presidency. The main campus of Inje University is located in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, the president’s hometown.

Yoon Seung-yong, the president’s spokesperson and presidential secretary for public relations, said on Monday, “We decided to construct President Roh’s memorial hall in Inje University and are negotiating with the university in detail.”

Some people criticize that Roh building his own memorial during his presidency is inappropriate.

“It’s a Good Idea” -

Reportedly, Roh said it was a “good idea” when he had dinner with Baek Nak-hwan, Inje’s chief of the board of directors, and Lee Gyeong-ho, the president of Inje university, and heard the proposal of building his memorial at Cheong Wa Dae on April 13. Baek, who was born in Jeongju, North Pyongan Province (now in the North), is an older brother of Baek Nak-cheong, the honorary professor of Seoul National University.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Yoon said, “It was an idea that it would be better if the hall is built in Inje University, the only university of Gimhae, the president’s hometown, where the president will return to after his presidency ends. From now on, negotiations will begin for creating a blueprint for the memorial.”

The model of Roh’s memorial hall is known to be the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library of Yonsei University, which opened in November 2003.

Some people say that Cheong Wa Dae tried to build the president’s memorial hall in Yonsei University, but considering the public opinion, it decided to change the site to Inje University located in the president’s hometown.

However, Cheong Wa Dae and Inje University had different explanations about how they contacted each other for the construction of the memorial.

Cheong Wa Dae said, “The university proposed the idea first for its enhancement, and the dinner meeting was held at the request of Inje University.” But an official of the university said, “In late February, Cheong Wa Dae proposed the idea of building the memorial first.”

President Roh met his fan club “Rohsamo”- which means People Who Love Roh Moo-hyun – members in last August and said, “After my retirement, there will be a Roh Moo-hyun memorial hall in my hometown. Two-thirds of the memorial will be filled with the documents of Rohsamo.”

Roh Moo-hyun School ? –

To the news report that Cheong Wa Dae intends to build the so-called “Roh Moo-hyun School of Public Policy” in the Seoul campus of Inje University, the presidential office said, “It’s groundless.” Some media reported on Sunday that the so-called “Roh Moo-hyun school initiated by Inje University is modeled after the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Moon Jeong-in, a professor of Yonsei University, who attended the dinner on Friday, said, “I have never heard about a Roh Moo-hyun school, and it’s not my idea.” Inje University officials also denied, saying they have no idea.

However, Yoon said, “The president once inquired during the dinner meeting what he would do when he returns to his hometown after the end of his term, and how it would be nice to give lectures about his vivid experience to younger people.”

Some suspect that this remark by the president was combined with Inje University’s plan to build a school of government in Seoul, producing the talk of setting up a Roh Moo-hyun school.

President Roh also said, “Discussing the numerous mistakes I have made will be helpful to younger people,” during the lunch meeting on January 19 with the people related to the 20th anniversary of the June uprising including Reverend Park Hyeong-gyu and honorary professor Baek Nak-cheong. Some people suspect that this remark is a political step to produce younger politicians after his retirement.

Comprehensive Archive vs. an Independent Memorial-

When the Roh Moo-hyun Memorial is built, the building will fall under the category of the “Independent Presidential Archives.” Under the “Presidential Archives Management Law” passed the National Assembly early this month, when an individual or a group builds an archive for a certain president and donates it to the government, it is regarded as an independent presidential archive.

Apart from this, the Roh administration announced that it would construct a “Comprehensive Presidential Archive,” which will collect and manage all the presidential archives in the multifunctional administrative city being completed in 2012.

The comprehensive archives will exhibit documents related to the presidents’ works, and an independent memorial will show the president’s private life.

The Construction Cost-

Cheong Wa Dae denied the news report that it has secured two billion won for the construction of the memorial. It added that the university must have calculated the number by itself. A staff of the university said, “Nothing is sure about how to finance it.”

However, Yoon said, “The Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library was built by using the matching fund method with the government and the private university equally sharing the cost.” This indicates that the way to finance the memorial has been already reviewed internally.

The matching fund method is a way to allocate the central government’s budget in related to the efforts of an organization. So, the Roh administration passed a resolution to support six billion won over the next three years to the Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library in the cabinet meeting in April 2005.

Grand National Party spokesman Yoo Gi-jun criticized, saying, “The plan to build the Roh Moo-hyun Memorial is a product of the combination of President Roh who is criticized for his poor accomplishments and excessive ideology and a calculating university. It will be unprecedented in our history that a president takes the lead in building a memorial with the government budget during his term.”

To the criticism, Kim Jeong-seop, a Cheong Wa Dae vice spokesperson, said, “Only plans are made during his term, and they will be actually carried out after he retires. If they receive the government budget, it will be implemented under the related law.”

jyw11@donga.com mindy@donga.com