중앙데일리

Spy’s book rattles ideas of North

June 10,2008
North Korean Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il, left, talks to Lim Dong-won, then South Korea’s National Intelligence Service chief, center, during the inter-Korean summit on June 14, 2000 in Pyongyang. Then-President Kim Dae-jung of the South is on the right. [JoongAng Ilbo]
Despite a half-century of animosity between his country and the United States, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il secretly asked Washington to keep U.S. troops in the South, a former intelligence head from the Kim Dae-jung administration era says in his memoir.

Lim Dong-won served as unification minister twice, headed the National Intelligence Service and was the architect of the Kim administration’s “Sunshine Policy” aimed at engaging North Korea.

He will publish his 742-page autobiography this week.

Titled “Peace Maker,” the memoir explores his secret visits to North Korea and negotiations to arrange the historic 2000 inter-Korean summit between the two Kims. The book will go on sale tomorrow; the Joong-Ang Ilbo obtained a copy Sunday.

According to Lim, the inter-Korean summit took place in Pyongyang on June 14 for four hours. During the meeting, Kim Jong-il agreed with then-President Kim Dae-jung’s argument that U.S. forces should continue to be stationed on the peninsula even after the two Koreas’ future unification. Then, Kim Jong-il revealed a secret to the South Korean visitors.

“In early 1992, I sent [Workers’ Party] Secretary Kim Yong-sun as a secret envoy to the U.S. Republican government,” Kim Jong-il was quoted as saying. “I requested that U.S. troops should stay to play a role in preventing war between the two Koreas. Taking into account the dynamics of Northeast Asia, it is better for U.S. forces to stay on the Korean Peninsula to keep the peace.”

Kim Dae-jung then asked his North Korean counterpart why Pyongyang demands the withdrawal of the U.S. troops through its state media.

“You should understand, because that is to appease the sentiments of our people,” Kim Jong-il was quoted as saying.

As if on cue, North Korea’s military yesterday criticized the cancellation of a cutback in U.S. troops based in South Korea.

During a visit to Seoul last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Washington will maintain American troops at the current level of 28,500.

“This, in fact, amounted to confirming and announcing to the world once again the undisguised U.S. attempt to perpetuate its presence in South Korea and Korea’s division,” said a spokesman for the Panmunjom Mission of the North’s Korean People’s Army. The statement was carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

In his memoir, Lim writes that he had visited the North again in April 2002 to urge Kim Jong-il to honor his promises to visit Seoul in return for the South Korean president’s visit to Pyongyang.

“I originally planned to visit Seoul in spring of 2001,” Kim Jong-il was quoted as saying. “However, the situation changed because Bush, who is hostile to us, won the presidential election in the United States.”

“The right-wingers in the South are threatening to hurt me, saying the North must apologize for the Korean War and for the Korean Air bombing. My aides tried to dissuade me from going to Seoul, saying that my visit will worsen the situation,” Kim was quoted as saying.

“Seoul is a dangerous place, where U.S. forces that carry out Bush’s hostile North Korea policy are stationed.”

Kim then proposed the two sides meet in Irkutsk in Russia’s Siberia.

“If necessary, we can discuss the project of linking the inter-Korean railroads with Siberian railways through a trilateral summit by inviting the Russian president,” Kim was quoted as saying.

Seoul, in turn, proposed that Kim visit Jeju Island if he is unwilling to travel to Seoul, but the North did not accept the plan, Lim wrote.


By Yeh Young-june JoongAng Ilbo/ Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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