Chong Wa Dae Opens Park Chung-hee's Diary

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Chong Wa Dae Opens Park Chung-hee's Diary

The 60 square meter library under the greenhous at Chong Wa Dae houses about 30,000 volumes of government publications, presidential speeches, and photo albums of presidential visits. Among the books collecting dust is former president Park Chung-hee's administrative diary.

Despite the fact that the diary has been open for public viewing since May 14 of this year, no one has requesting to see the historically important document thus far.

The historical document research team at Chong Wa Dae discovered the diary by chance during their computerization of documents at the Blue House last February.

The document was verified by historians and found to be the only copy of its kind in existence. The research team was delighted and dumbfounded - how could such an important piece of Korean history have been hidden for over thirty years? Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Kim Young-sam went as far as to hire a private secretary to keep track of Chung's diary.

In spite of the team's efforts, the library does not have many diaries of former presidents. For example, President Lee Seung-man, following the end of his term in the April Revolution, buried documents from his presidency in the library of his private residence. The library is now in the hands of Yonsei University's Korea History Research Institute.

Additionally, there are no government documents at the library that are preserved from periods of major social unrest, including the December 12 military coup and the May 18 Kwangju Massacre.

"Most of the information in these periods has been destroyed or passed on to private collections," says a spokesperson with Chong Wa Dae.

Public speeches and orations given by former president, Roh Tae-woo and Kim Young-sam are easily available to the public on news service databases.

However, "there were few opportunities to record their private conversations," quoted a former chief writer at Chong Wa Dae.

Administrative records are not private property. Even in ancient times like the Chosun Dynasty, government documents were of great importance. It's not too late for the current government to care for the remaining number of historical documents in its possession.

by Kim Jin-kook

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