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Ex-aide: Roh caved on North’s requests

Says president agreed to two of three demands

Aug 07,2006
North Korea wanted the South to remove three things, and the Roh Moo-hyun administration effectively took care of two of them, Kim Hee-sang, former defense policy advisor to Mr. Roh, said yesterday in an exclusive interview with the JoongAng Ilbo.
“North Korea wanted to get rid of propaganda signboards [south of] the demilitarized zone, remove the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command and end the Northern Limit Line,” said Mr. Kim, who served as Mr. Roh’s defense advisor from February 2003 to January 2004. “The signboards along the border have been removed, and the combined forces command will automatically be dissolved when the United States hands over the wartime operational control to the South.”
The Northern Limit Line is the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas. The North has been asking to redraw the borders at past military talks, a request the South has flatly rejected.
In October, the Roh administration is scheduled to announce the timeline to take over wartime operational control. That must not occur, Mr. Kim said. “It will not be too late to take it over after we beef up our military capability first to replace the U.S.-South Korea alliance.”
The JoongAng Ilbo interviewed Mr. Kim twice, on July 31 and yesterday. In both interviews, Mr. Kim criticized the Roh administration’s vision and security goals, calling them policies that “bolster the Kim Jong-il regime and shake the security posture of the South.”
Mr. Kim was also skeptical about the engagement policy toward the North. “The policy said that it will be okay to feed North Korea, but the North has been engaged in nuclear development and increased threats,” Mr. Kim said. “The nation felt that the Sunshine Policy has actually failed.”
He also blamed the Roh administration for making no progress on the nuclear crisis. “The government will have a difficult time denying the accusation that it left the nuclear crisis unattended.”
South Korea is walking on a different path from the united international community regarding the North’s missile development, Mr. Kim said. “Nuclear and missile programs are disasters to South Korea,” he said, adding that the South will become a target of threats and provocations. “A nuclear-armed North Korea maintains peace, but the peace comes from subordination and slavery, and unifying the two Koreas under liberal democracy will probably become impossible.”
Worrying about the deepening rift between the U.S. and South Korea, he claimed Mr. Roh’s U.S. policy was flexible until Lee Jong-seok, the current unification minister, joined the Blue House as the deputy head of the National Security Council in March 2003. Mr. Kim left the Blue House in January 2004 and Yoon Young-kwan, then foreign minister, left the same month. “After that, the president had no one speaking the right things to him, and now we see the extreme.”


by Kim Min-seok, Ser Myo-ja


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