Why South Korean Government Leaks Summit Information Little by Little

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Why South Korean Government Leaks Summit Information Little by Little

The South Korean government's speeches have been very ambiguous following the inter-Korea Summit. South Korean President Kim Dae-jung reported the results of the summit briefly to the people at the airport on the day of his return, and Unification Minister Park Jae-kyu visited and briefed the Unification, Foreign Affairs, and Trade Committee at the Korean National Assembly. However, some rumors and information have come out from not only President Kim but also the Unification Minister and summit delegates apart from the official briefings.

There were many important issues talked about by these ‘unofficial’ sourses, for example North Korea admitting the need for U.S. Forces in Korea, the possibility of North Korea reforming Workers' Party regulations, high ranking North Korean officials' visiting South Korea before National Defense Committee Chairman Kim Jong-il, and North Korea's approval for the establishment of a military hot-line between the two Koreas. Some people have made accusations about where these delegates’ loyalty lies and others blame the government for failing to meet its security responsibilities regarding the release of information. However, there is no information about government attempts to punish or even rout out who released this information. On the contrary, the government places the blame for these leaks not on the people who allowed the information to get out but on the press, deciding to prohibit reporters access to public organizations.

The press believes that the South Korean government's attitude, in which they monopolized all the information about the inter-Korea's summit and seem to leak the information little by little, could produce some very serious side effects. Most of all, the South Korean government's sincerity should be looked at. President Kim told the leader of the Opposition Party that North Korea now admits that federalism would be impossible for reunification, but the next day North Korea replied that they would absolutely hold to the idea of federalism. Regarding the June 15 Joint Declaration, if the South and North‘s viewpoints are already differing, there would have to be something wrong, and either the South or North could be suspected of taking a two faced attitude.

The appearance of the South Korean government as slowly leaking information regarding the establishment of a system for peaceful reunification to lessen criticism of the June 15 Joint Declaration is unacceptable. If a system for peaceful reunification is in the agreement as the South Korean government has claimed, then the process can be aided by minister level conferences. But the government may have been exaggerating the facts included in the agreement in order to avoid criticism.

The important thing is the principle that the South Korean government should have announced any agreements or optimistic prospects from the summit, in addition to the Joint Declaration, to the people through proper channels. Especially seeing that the government can not avoid placing the burden on the people of South Korea when it begins its efforts to create an economic balance between South and North. Therefore, the government must make the citizens of Korea understand why they should be given this burden. Nevertheless, they have taken the unreasonable route of overall under reporting on the summit. If they continue attempting to withhold information and only leaking information informally, they will create a lot of mistrust and they must take the responsibility for having nurtured it.

by Lee Jong-min

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