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[EDITORIALS]Northern Official a Seoul Columnist?

Apr 11,2001
Testimony by a former director general of the National Intelligence Service at the National Assembly makes us wonder whether the service is properly fulfilling its role. Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, until recently the head of the agency, was asked, "Is Song Du-yul, professor of philosophy at Muenster University in Germany who writes a column in the Hankyoreh newspaper, the same person as Kim Chol-su, an alternate member of North Korea's Politburo?" Mr. Lim told an Assembly committee Tuesday that the intelligence agency believes so, and he shares that opinion. Mr. Lim said he did not know Mr. Song has been writing a column in the Hankyoreh since the beginning of this year.

Lest we be misunderstood, we have no intention to instigate a wasteful debate on ideology. We also have no means to verify whether the intelligence service is right in believing Mr. Song is a member of North Korea's Politburo nor do we have means to verify whether Mr. Song's denial is truthful. Furthermore, Mr. Song is a German citizen and we have not detected any suspicious statements in his columns from a national security point of view.

Still, the problem with the intelligence service remains. The agency failed to carry out its duty properly if it is true that it took no action in the situation where someone suspected of being a Politburo member of North Korea's Workers' Party has been writing a column of his own in a South Korean newspaper. If the head of the National Intelligence Service did not know of the column, it suggests some serious problems within the agency.

The service must have some evidence if Mr. Lim, a leading proponent of the engagement policy toward North Korea, can decisively state that Mr. Song and Mr. Kim, the Politburo member, are the same person. We wonder why the intelligence agency does not disclose the evidence. Revealing the true identity of Mr. Song would help prevent wasteful ideological debates and ward off future problems. The National Intelligence Service should provide a clear-cut answer.



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