Cheong Wa Dae announced Wednesday that South and North Korea arrived at a mutual consensus after many discussions, rather than at the request of one of the parties, on restoration of a communication hotline, in refutation of the National Intelligence Service’s Director Park Jie-won’s statement that it was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who requested restoration of the hotline. The director’s remark was made at the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee meeting on Tuesday Park voluntarily attended, which was immediately denied by the Ministry of Unification on the same day and was again rebutted by Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. It is quite unprecedented for Cheong Wa Dae to expressly make a rebuttal, hinting at a possible disagreement between Cheong Wa Dae and the NIS over North Korea policy, with the end of President Moon Jae-in’s term nearing.
Regarding Director Park’s remark that Kim Jong Un requested the restoration of the hotline, a Cheong Wa Dae official told in a phone conversation with The Dong-A Ilbo on Wednesday that such statement was not communicated to Cheong Wa Dae in advance. “(Park’s claim) is different from the truth, and it is a principle not to disclose details of diplomatic conversations,” the Cheong Wa Dae official who refused to identify himself said, making a show of discomfort. The official emphasized that Cheong Wa Dae’s position is that the two sides mutually agreed to restore the hotline.
The Ministry of Unification also told reporters late on Tuesday that the restoration of the communication hotline between the two Koreas was the result of mutual agreement and discussion, contrary to the argument that either one of the parties asked for it first.
Some observers say that different agencies responsible for South Korean foreign and national security affairs are either vying for leadership or disagreeing over North Korea policy. “Cheong Wa Dae is being very careful not to compromise the fledgling relationship with North Korea,” a government official said. “When any government agency makes spontaneous remarks or passes the government ahead and act peremptorily, it becomes difficult to coordinate response. This is why Cheong Wa Dae promptly released a rebuttal.”
Jin-Woo Shin firstname.lastname@example.org