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Mr. Goh Saying Withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Korea Is Not in Cards

Mr. Goh Saying Withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Korea Is Not in Cards

Posted February. 20, 2003 23:10,   


The National Assembly on Feb. 20 evaluated Goh Kun, president-elect Roh Moo-hyun`s prime minister-designate, in terms of ethics, ability in national administration, and his past at a confirmation hearing.

At the hearing he was questioned a lot about military service exemption of himself and his second son. In addition, he was charged for his role as senior presidential political secretary right after October 26, 1979 and at the time when the May 17 martial law was declared in 1980, and his performance as interior minister in June 1987, when democratization movements swept the country, and as a lawmaker of the now-defunct Democratic Justice Party.

Rep. Song Kwang-ho of the United Liberal Democrats called in question Mr. Goh`s exemption from military draft, asking that though in 1958, when he was a junior at college, he got a check-up and was declared eligible for military draft, but "why did you not enter the military after you passed the state-run exam for high-ranking administrative public officials in 1961? Were there any relations between the Interior Ministry`s administration department, your first working place, and the local Military Manpower Administration?"

The prime minister-designate explained that he was not given a written conscription order because then a lot of young men applied for military service, so he didn`t dodged military draft. He added that the exemption was not related to his post at the Interior Ministry.

Rep. Lee In-gi of the Grand National Party (GNP) and Rep. Lee Jong-gul of the Millennium Democratic Party pressed him hard for the allegations of his disappearance right after May 17, 1980, when a massacre occurred in the Southeastern city of Gwangju at the order of the then administration. In response, Mr. Goh contended that he "certainly handed in his resignation."

Meanwhile, Rep. Yoon Kyung-sik of the GNP suspected that he violated rules, according to which he is supposed to pay income tax and value-added tax last August when he rented out his house in Dongsung-dong for restaurant purposes, not for residing purposes. The prime minister-designate answered, "I decided that there would be no problem after I made an inquiry to a local tax office then."

As to American troops stationed in Korea and nuclear issues, he said that the withdrawal of the American forces in Korea and some young people`s call for holding nuclear weapons as sovereignty do not make sense at all. Regarding President Kim Dae-jung`s engagement policy toward North Korea, he judged that the sunshine policy made great contributions to establishing cooperative inter-Korean relationships, but that it lacked transparency and stopped short of getting wholesale support from the public.

With respect to North Korea nuclear issues, he stressed, "We should make clear that it is not the right time for the reorganization of American troops stationed in Korea."

The National Assembly is scheduled to continue the confirmation hearing for the second consecutive day tomorrow morning, calling in 22 witnesses including Roh Jae-hyun, former defense minister and Kim Yu-hu, former presidential secretary for legal affairs. The National Assembly` vote for Mr. Goh is scheduled to be held on Feb. 25.

Yeon-Wook Jung jyw11@donga.com