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Former President Roh’s NLL remarks should be fully disclosed

Former President Roh’s NLL remarks should be fully disclosed

Posted June. 22, 2013 07:28,   


Claims about the late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun’s allegedly controversial remarks during his 2007 summit with the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il have created a stir. Lawmakers of the ruling Saenuri Party who have viewed a transcript of the summit kept by the National Intelligence Service, Seoul’s spy agency, claimed that Roh made remarks seriously undermining the legitimacy of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de factor sea border with North Korea. According to them, Roh said that the NLL was “stifling” and that he shared Kim Jong Il’s view on redefining the NLL. Representative Suh Sang-kee, chairman of the National Assembly’s intelligence committee, argued that he had confirmed Roh made remarks indicative of his intention to give up the NLL. Another Saenuri Party lawmaker claimed that Roh almost habitually said to the North Korean leader “I report to you” and “as I have just reported to you.”

The Saenuri lawmakers also claimed that Roh said, “I have had more than 50 summits overseas. When North Korea became an issue, I sometimes played the role of North Korea’s defense counsel or became red-faced.” They also said Roh had sided with North Korea and criticized the United States for seeking hegemony.

It is surprising that the former president, who had the responsibility of protecting his country’s territory, made such a remark suggesting his willingness to give up the NLL, the de facto maritime border with the North after the 1950-1953 Korean War. It also makes us speechless that Roh said he was “reporting” to Kim Jong Il. If the transcript is true, Roh deserted our national interest, principle and the dignity and forgot his constitutional duty as the head of state.

Controversies over the NLL erupted in October last year, when Chung Moon-hun, a Saenuri lawmaker, exposed the existence of the transcript, in which Roh allegedly said the NLL was drawn arbitrarily by the U.S. and that South Korea would not claim the sea border. The main opposition Democratic Party denied the allegation and filed a complaint against Chung. In February this year, the prosecution read the transcript submitted by the spy agency, cleared him of the charges, saying that “it was difficult to see Rep. Chung’s claim as false.”

The issue should not be treated from the perspective of protecting the nation’s territory and national principle, not as political wrangling between the two parties. The public has the right to know what exactly former President Roh said about the NLL. The Democratic Party’s denial of the claims and objection to the disclosure of the transcript would disregard the public.

The opposition party argued that the Saenuri Party was trying to divert the public attention away from the spy agency’s alleged intervention in last year’s presidential election, arguing that the ruling party lawmakers viewed the transcript at a time when the opposition party was calling for a parliamentary investigation into the spy agency scandal. However, the scandal is one thing and the NLL transcript is the other. Both issues should thoroughly be digged into. Moon Jae-in, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate last year and Roh’s former chief of staff, also called for full disclosure of all documents regarding the 2007 summit remarks, including the original transcript. The opposition party has no more reason to be attacked on this issue. Cooperating in finding the truth would lessen the burdens on the opposition party.