Go to contents

A Conversation With President Roh

Posted September. 29, 2006 07:05,   


In regard to the rumor that the president asked for an early closing of the investigation into Banco Delta Asia in Hong Kong when he met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson:

I thought the investigation was one of the reasons that six-party talks have long been in a stalemate. I hoped that the investigation would be closed soon. In this sense I just asked, “Why does it take so long? When is it going to end?” Then, Mr. Paulson answered, “Some cases take longer time. It is a common process. That doesn’t mean anything.”

So I cracked a joke saying, “Well, Korean prosecutors could finish it more quickly. The U.S. investigators seem to be different from our investigators.” That was it. Since I said so, the U.S. Ambassador to Korea might have thought I said so because I wanted it to end soon. I think it is no big deal.

When Grand National Party lawmakers visit the U.S., they tend to meet and listen to voices against the Korean government and are pleased with such voices. I think parliamentary diplomacy should help government diplomacy. If it adversely affects government diplomacy, it goes too far. If it dampens government’s efforts, it is not desirable.

In regard to the opinion that we should have second thoughts about command recovery if the North goes ahead with nuclear tests:

The issue has nothing to do with North’s nuclear tests. The possibility of war and the recovery of our military command are two separate issues. We should have independent wartime operational control with or without the issue.

In regard to the opinion that we should regain ground operational control but the U.S. should maintain air operational control:

The recovery is a matter of decision-making. Korea should recover both. But if we want, we can discuss whether Korea or the U.S. Air Force should have an authority over technical mechanisms such as planning flight trajectory.

In regard to the opinion that the transfer leads to security uncertainty:

I am concerned about their dogma and self-righteousness. Do they mean those who fought for democracy are not willing to or capable of ensuring our security? The timing will be decided between 2009 and 2012 after consultation between Korea and the U.S. However, that does not mean we can delay the process as we wish.

In regard to the tripwire:

It should be us, not the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division who defend our land near the military demarcation line. If you know a thing or two, you wouldn’t let another country’s army be left in the strategically critical location as a tripwire.

Controversy over the Constitutional Court Chief nominee:

It was supposed to be okay. It should have not provoked a controversy. But it did. That’s why I improved procedure. I did what I can do. Now it’s National Assembly’s turn. Now there is nothing I can do but to wait till the National Assembly makes a decision, even if it means lawmakers reject the nomination on the excuse of procedure or vote out the nomination.

It is true that I appoint people who have similar belief and value system with me. But this is not the case. We just happened to be at the Judicial Research and Training Institute in the same year. I have no business with the Constitutional Court. She is moderate. When you elect me as president, you mean I can choose who I want. That’s why I choose someone I like.

Controversy over the wealth disparity and the Swedish welfare model:

Since I was inaugurated, the gap between rich and poor has widened. I feel responsible for that. I failed to reduce the number of temporary workers. We have more temporary workers and self-employed people than when I was inaugurated. Some of them are the absolute poor. The government determines the minimum cost of living. If we raise that, we have more people below the poverty line because that raises the threshold. I feel sorry about that.

Sweden spends 28% of its GDP on social welfare and public service expenditure. We spend only 8%. Yes, the right wing now seized the power in Sweden, but how much do you think the new government will cut the welfare budget? The victory of the right wing does not mean the collapse of the welfare system. That’s far from the truth.

In regard to the issue of a female president:

I am in the middle. I don’t think we should give a priority to female candidates. That’s not necessary. President should be the right person whether the person is male or female.

In regard to his sickness:

I did not want to be absent a single day during my term because I always wanted perfect attendance award during my school years but I never won it. But unfortunately I took a day off.

In regard to the press report that he was heartbroken:

If that is the reason I was sick, I should have been sick after one year I took office.

sys1201@donga.com jyw11@donga.com