Go to contents

Roh`s Aide Secretly Met N. Korean Officials Even Before Inauguration

Roh`s Aide Secretly Met N. Korean Officials Even Before Inauguration

Posted March. 05, 2003 22:18,   


It has become known that, just prior to inauguration of President Roh, his National Security Advisor Rah Jong-il visited China on February 20th and had a secret meeting with North Korean officials to discuss various issues between the two countries.

According to Blue House spokeswoman Song Kyung-hee, Rah said yesterday, "It is true that I met North Korean officials in Beijing last 20th. However, I can`t disclose what I discussed with them for now. It`s a matter of the national security."

Rah was quoted as saying, "One thing I can tell for sure is that I did not suggest that the North and South should hold a second summit, or that leaders of both sides should directly consult with each other to resolve the nuclear standoff." Asked whether the secret meeting was directed or agreed upon by then President-elect Roh, he refused to answer and said, "I can make any comment on that."

Also upon the request for verification of the person(s) he contacted, he refused to make comments and just said that it was not Chun Kum-chul, a North Korean official who was staying in Beijing at the time Rah visited it.

In the meanwhile, spokeswoman Song opined, "As far as I know, it was not directed by then President-elect Roh. Rah told me that he met them for personal purposes. He also confirmed that he did not go over there to arrange anything like the North-South summit."

At the time Rah met the North Korean officials, he was the South Korean ambassador to Britain. Three days after the secret meeting, he was designated as the National Security Advisor of the incoming administration.

Before he held a secret meeting with the North, he returned to Korea on Feb. 9th, and had two meetings with Roh. Thus, it seems that Rah explained to North Korean officials the incoming Roh administration`s North Korean policies, and tapped on North Korea`s intent as to resolution of the nuclear showdown.

In anticipation of the summit between Roh and Bush, which is expected in May, some experts try to sell a theory that the secret meeting was part of the efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff in a package deal.

President Roh reportedly expressed his opinion that Rah himself should explain the meeting in a press conference. In addition, spokeswoman Song asked him to hold a conference. But, Rah brushed off the two suggestions, casting a doubt on Roh`s promise that his administration would not engage in any activity that may be considered secret in nature.

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com