Go to contents

Unification minister criticizes ex-Pres. Lee for controversial memoir

Unification minister criticizes ex-Pres. Lee for controversial memoir

Posted February. 07, 2015 07:23,   


South Korea’s Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae on Friday strongly criticized former President Lee Myung-bak for controversial behind-the-scene stories about the inter-Korean relations in his recently released memoir. It was the first time that a diplomacy and security-related minister of the Park Geun-hye administration directly criticized the former president’s memoir.

"(He) should not have revealed matters in that manner,” Ryoo said at a forum in Seoul. Claiming knowledge about the background of Lee’s memoir, the minister noted, “I don`t think it`s appropriate to say everything (he) knows.”

Lee wrote in his memoir that North Korea demanded an “enormous amount of money” in return for holding an inter-Korean summit during secret contacts in 2009 for a summit. Ryoo seems to have concluded that the former president disclosed too many unnecessary details about the process and that the content was too controversial to be in Seoul’s national interest.

“As the (South Korean) government has view the North’s behavior of unilaterally disclosing details about inter-Korean talks as acts of undermining mutual trust, it seems to regard the memoir as not helpful in building inter-Korean trust,” a ministry official said.

After the memoir’s release, a senior official at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said he was “concerned” about the mention of the secret contacts between the two Koreas for a summit.

The Unification Ministry had maintained an official position that it was “not appropriate” to discuss the content of a former president’s memoir.

Ryoo also criticized Lee for his aborted attempt to shut down the ministry. “The Unification Ministry was almost abolished in 2008, and its staff members still have the trauma,” the minister said. “At that time, 80 staff members at the headquarters were dismissed. After what he did, how can he talk about reunification?” Ryoo claimed that as the only ideologically divided country in the world, South Korea should add more power to his ministry.

He also indicated Seoul’s flexibility on its sanctions on the North imposed by the Lee administration. “Once talks are held between the South and the North, I believe it can serve as a chance for lifting the May 24th Measure,” he said, referring to the 2010 sanctions that Seoul imposed on the North for its torpedo attack on the South Korean naval ship Cheonan.

The minister noted that if the so-called Rajin-Khasan project, the South’s trilateral logistics project with North Korea and Russia, moves forward and South Korean capital is invested, the May 24 Measure will be in a “very awkward” situation. He also said, "The Park administration will never provide any unconditional assistance for the North, apparently in an attempt to ease the conservatives’ concerns.