[EDITORIALS]Secret work, secret medals

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[EDITORIALS]Secret work, secret medals

The government is preparing to present medals of honor to 14 former and active government officials and presidential or prime minister's citations to 34 others who contributed to the staging of the June 15 North-South Korea summit two years ago.

It is certainly proper to recognize them with decorations; the summit was a new chapter in Korean history.

But the summit process is still going on, and its status and the procedures that led to the summit are still veiled from the public. There seems to us to be no need to hurry in conferring medals on the designers as quickly as Seoul proposes to do.

The Ministry of Unification tried to present the medals last year, but decided to wait for more major developments in inter-Korean relations. Too many things, such as the reciprocal visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to Seoul, were still undone.

That was a wise decision, and we wonder why the ministry changed its mind now -- nothing in inter-Korean relations has changed much during the last year.

The ministry said that government officials should get medals just for building a bridge -- the devotion they showed to preparing for the summit is more than enough justification for medals, it said. In addition, the administration is probably concerned that the next administration may not have the same appreciation for these officials' work that it has.

But there are more than 600 officials involved in the summit and its aftermath. If the government wants to recognize some of them with medals, it should be done after their efforts are disclosed to the public and their work comes to fruition. If inter-Korean relations go smoothly after Kim Jong-il visits Seoul; if we clearly know who did what and how things went -- only then we can properly evaluate the summit and reward officials involved in it.

There are things related to the summit that need to be clearly explained. In this situation we cannot understand why the government wants to honor its officials first and keep the public in the dark.
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