중앙데일리

Designated unification minister defends views

Feb 10,2009
South Korea’s Unification Minister-designate Hyun In-taek faced lawmakers yesterday who questioned his ability to lead inter-Korean dialogue.

During the National Assembly hearing, Hyun defended “Denuclearization, Openness, 3000,” Seoul’s main North Korea policy, which he helped craft. Hyun said he would use dialogue to “unravel many misunderstandings” Pyongyang has about the policy.

Members of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee grilled Hyun about his views on North Korea, allegations of tax evasion and his alleged role in the Lee transition team’s attempt to abolish the Unification Ministry.

Opposition Democratic Party lawmakers and even a few ruling Grand National Party members expressed doubts that the 55-year-old professor, who is well known for his hard-line North Korea stance, would be able to bring Pyongyang to the table.

“North Korea’s nuclear issue should be solved by any means to bring genuine peace to the Korean Peninsula and accomplish solid reunification,” Hyun said at the beginning of the hearing.

However, some lawmakers questioned whether Hyun’s emphasis on denuclearizing the North would further hamper efforts to resume dialogue with Pyongyang.

The Lee administration has promised to help the North achieve an average per-capita income of $3,000 within 10 years if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear program and pledges to open its society to the outside world. Pyongyang has interpreted this offer as a design to overthrow its regime, in which a nuclear program is considered the ultimate protection from what it calls threats to its survival.

“The issue of denuclearizing the North is being dealt with in the framework of the six-party talks. Do you really believe it would be suitable to put forth policies on the issue that the South Korean government can hardly solve alone?” said DP lawmaker Shin Nak-kyun.

Another DP lawmaker, Song Min-soon, also took issue with Hyun’s signature campaign, calling it “a stillborn policy” whose goals were unrealistic.

“You should create a political environment that entices the North to open itself up, rather than forcing it to do so,” Song said. Song, a former Foreign Minister, was once a lead nuclear negotiator for the six-party talks.

“A dialogue policy that is not accepted by the dialogue partner is stillborn, dead from the very beginning, he observed.”

Hyun reiterated, in his defense, that denuclearization is a necessary prerequisite to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula. He said the current downward spiral in inter-Korean relations is a “transitional period” for Pyongyang to readjust itself to Seoul’s lowered tolerance for the North’s nuclear ambition.

“I know it will take quite some time. But I will make more efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and help the North denuclearize itself at the same time,” Hyun said.

Faced with questions about whether he evaded inheritance taxes for a piece of property on Jeju Island that belonged to his father, Hyun repeated his earlier defense. He said he bought the property from the person to whom it had been sold 10 days after the sale because that person asked him to do so.

Hyun also explained that he never took part in a discussion in Lee’s transition team in early 2008 to abolish the Unification Ministry, a plan later dropped amid public opposition. He said he was only in charge of devising new diplomatic policies, while the plan to restructure and reshuffle government agencies was handled by other teams.



By Jung Ha-won Staff Reporter [hawon@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장