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“Incompetence of MOFAT and NSC Worsened the Situation”

“Incompetence of MOFAT and NSC Worsened the Situation”

Posted August. 03, 2004 21:53,   


On August 3, the last day of the hearing of the Assembly’s special investigation into Kim Sun-il’s death, assemblymen of both the ruling and opposition parties closely inquired into the decision made by the National Security Council (NSC), the decision’s appropriateness, and counter measures against terrorism.

In particular, the assemblymen of the Uri Party condemned the NSC officials more harshly than those from the Grand National Party did.

Assemblyman Choi Jae-chun criticized by saying, “If there’s one percent of responsibility, the government must assume it. Although they should be ashamed, the NSC is still too pompous.” Assemblyman Yoo Ki-hong condemned the government, saying, “The relaxed management and supervision of the NSC and its lack of correspondence caused the situation. The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea (BAI) is trying to throw the entire blame on Kim Chun-ho, the president of Gana General Trading, by pinning suspicions of the cause of death to Kim Sun-il on Kim Chun-oh.”

Jun Yeo-ok, an assemblyman of the Grand National Party, said, “The NSC’s manual against terrorism turned out to be useless. The NSC must be reduced so that it only acts as an advisory structure.”

The Iraqi female lawyer, who is reported to have led the negotiation of Kim’s release, participated in the hearing held this day. It was the first time any foreigner has stood as a witness or a reference since the hearing system was introduced in 1988.

To protect the witness, a white curtain was stretched before the witness, and the witness answered the questions of the assemblymen from behind the curtain with her interpreter. To the question, “Why didn’t you report Kim’s abduction to the embassy?” the witness answered, “I did not report it to the embassy because I figured reporting to the embassy would make the matter more complicated. I thought reporting to the embassy would make the matter an issue of politics, and Kim might be killed because of that.”

Ahead of the witness, as soon as the hearing started, the assemblymen of the ruling and opposition party argued over the channels through which Park Jin, an assemblyman of the Grand National Party, obtained the original copy of the video tape related to Kim Sun-il, and the arguing caused a 40-minute delay in the hearing.

The hearing, which was held for three days, was nothing more than the presentation of the results of the BAI’s investigation into Kim Sun-il’s death, and it did not come up with a meaningful conclusion. Whether the NSC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) knew in advance about the abduction, whether Kim Chun-ho conducted the negotiation properly, and why the Associated Press (AP) did not release the obtained videotape as soon as the abduction happened still remain suspicious.

However, the fact that three reporters from the AP, not just one, had called MOFAT to make an inquiry, and that the videotape the AP obtained originally was 13 minutes long, with Kim Sun-il clearly stating his address, rather than four minutes and 30 seconds long, were newly discovered during the hearing.

Accordingly, suspicions as to why the AP had edited the video tape, and whether there are more employees of MOFAT who had received a call from the AP, were newly raised.

Min-Hyuk Park mhpark@donga.com