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Unification minister`s incomprehensible remarks

Posted April. 12, 2001 12:46,   


During an interpellation session at the National Assembly on Tuesday, Unification Minister Lim Dong-Won confirmed that Prof. Song Doo-Yul of Germany`s Munster University was a candidate for membership in the Politburo of North Korea`s ruling Workers Party, but said that he did not know that Song had contributed many articles to the Hangyoreh Shinmun, a vernacular daily in Seoul. It is incomprehensible why the minister made such remarks.

Hwang Jang-Yop, who defected from the North in 1997, revealed in his book, titled ``Truth and Falsehoods about North Korea,`` that Prof. Song was Kim Chol-Su, candidate for membership in the Korean Workers Party`s Politburo. Song brushed aside Hwang`s contention, questioning how a man who holds German citizenship could become a member of the North`s communist party. He went so far as to file suit against Hwang with the Seoul District Court demanding compensation for being libeled. The lawsuit is still pending. However, it is true that since Song visited Pyongyang in 1991 at the invitation of the North Korean Social and Scientific Council, he met with the late North Korean president Kim Il-Sung on many occasions. For that matter, he has been under surveillance by the nation`s intelligence agency.

During the parliamentary inspection of the administration, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) stated that Song was a candidate for Politburo membership in the North and that in July 1994, he was even included on the list of invitees to the funeral for the late North Korean leader. Last year, he attempted to come to the South in order to attend a ceremony for the ``Late Spring Award`` but was prevented from doing so. Asked during the Assembly question-and-answer session if Song was in fact Kim Chol-Su, Minister Lim, formerly NIS director, replied that his intelligence agency thought so, adding that he had the same judgment. Lim also made it clear that the NIS had discussed the question of Song`s entry into Korea.

In this light, it is assumed that the intelligence service must have been well aware of Song`s activities. Hence, it is incomprehensible that the former NIS director had no knowledge about Song`s frequent contributions to the newspaper. Song contributed articles to the daily on five occasions since Jan. 5. Only two weeks ago or so, Minister Lim was the highest official responsible for collecting and analyzing various information, and then making policy decisions based on the information.

Minister Lim played a central role in the implementation of inter-Korean programs and is still in a position to do so. In view of this fact, we would like to know why he answered that he had no idea about the Song`s contributions. Also raising our concern is whether he had any special reasons for not having this knowledge.

If Minister Lim made such remarks by mistake or because of a slip of the tongue, he should apologize. If not, he ought to make it clear why he gave such a reply at the parliamentary session. Lim is urged to clarify his position on this issue.