[INSIGHT]A policy only truth might save

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[INSIGHT]A policy only truth might save

The roots of President Kim Dae-jung's sunshine policy are shaky. Suspicion that the June 2000 summit was achieved through backdoor dealings has been suggested with circumstantial evidence.

President Kim has pointed out many times that national security and the sunshine policy are seperate. But there is some suspicion that the heads of the military disregarded signs that the North was planning armed provocations. Furthermore, there are allegations that President Kim's Nobel Peace Prize resulted from a lobbying campaign. These misgivings are not merely a reflection on President Kim. They are related to the problems of the two Koreas, which have to do with the future of the North and its people. Since our national security is involved, the problems should be solved carefully.

President Kim should take control of the situation. If the 400 billion won ($333 million) that Hyundai Merchant Marine borrowed from the Korea Development Bank ended up somewhere in the Hyundai Group, the Fair Trade Commission or the Financial Supervisory Commission should launch an investigation. But reports claim the money was used to pave the way for the summit between Pyeongyang and Seoul. The president and his aides know the truth.

Were there deals in preparation for the summit between the two Koreas? I can imagine that there were several obstacles that had to be overcome since the summit was the first since Korea was divided more than half a century ago. In my opinion the working-level officials might have tried to show some brotherly love toward the North in trying to get past the obstacles. Perhaps they made promises and did not report them to the president. If that were the case, the officials could have made a public appeal before seeking approval for the funds, but that might have killed the idea.

If this type of agreement was in fact a necessary precursor to a summit, the president's office should explain what happened in detail and try to get consent from the people now. The Blue House has insisted that there were no backdoor dealings, so why are they opposing a trace on the money?

Rumors about lobbying for Mr. Kim to receive the Nobel prize could be exaggerations. Winning a Nobel prize was the Korean people's desire. A Nobel prize in literature requires lobbying efforts. Korean literary works should be translated into English and French and published abroad to receive wide exposure.

President Kim unquestionably deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Even though he had many achievements in his political career, there was a need to inform the Nobel Committee of his accomplishments. I can understand the government's inviting important international figures to South Korea to observe the reunion of families separated by the Korean War. If aides to the president participated in this kind of activity, they are not to be blamed. If they explain their work, people will understand. But if they remain silent, suspicions that the president won the Nobel prize through backdoor dealings will gain ground.

There is one more thing that the president should do. He should make a stand on military discipline as the supreme commander. The reason the sunshine policy gets support from the majority of the people is national security and reconciliation. When the bid for reconciliation and cooperation is joined with enhanced national security, the sunshine policy keeps rolling. But we have seen one of the components, national security, compromised in the battle in the Yellow Sea last June 29.

The military intelligence agencies, which should react on the mere movement of the enemy, displayed a lack of coordination. This means that a key function of our military did not work at that time. If the president does not seek to discover those who were responsible for the intelligence failure, the nation could experience anxiety.

The president and his advisers should clear up these kinds of suspicions related to the government's North Korea policy. If these suspicions are proven true in the next administration, it cannot use the reconciliation policy toward the North. If the reconciliation policy is branded backdoor dealings, it and no policy like it will be able to gain the people's support.

We face a crisis, one that might bring the demise of the root of Seoul's policy toward the North. And if the suspicions are proven true during the next administration, we could get another miserable former president.

If there is something unclear, it should be made clear. Then the president can live as a former president should, and the reconciliation policy toward the North can survive -- without suspicion.


The writer is the editorial page editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kwon Young-bin

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