[EDITORIALS]Ill-timed spy controversyThe confrontation between the Blue House and the opposition Grand National Party, which derives from President Roh Moo-hyun’s appointment of Ko Young-koo as head of the National Intelligence Service despite legislative opposition, will do neither party good. President Roh attacked the legislature, saying, “It tried to discriminate by coloring the candidate ideologically,” and the Grand Nationals countered that “Mr. Roh has a plan to implant ideologically biased people at important posts.”
The NIS is a fortress for democracy and a market economy in South Korea. It is absurd that the nation is in an ideological conflict over the head of the NIS. While we confront North Korea, we are naturally concerned about who will best defend our system. This is hardly ideological bias.
At the moment, people’s wariness over national security is at its high point because of North Korea’s admission that it possesses nuclear arms. The president and the legislature are engaged in an ideological debate over the head of NIS -- the agency responsible for securing national security. All ideological confrontations should cease.
The president should lead the way. When the National Assembly judged Mr. Ko as “inappropriate” for the post, the president should have accommodated that opinion. In view of the political situation, it would have been better if the president had done so. A prolonged confrontation would be undesirable. Both sides should opt for a compromise. The president, who tied the knot, should untie it by apologizing to the Assembly and the opposition and promising that the NIS director and other senior officials will not be involved in any ideological controversy. Mr. Roh should not insist on the appointment of a university professor who was vetoed by the Assembly to a senior post at the agency. Mentioning his name repeatedly is a deliberate attempt to confront the legislature.
The GNP’s decision to deal with the issue separately from other state affairs is encouraging. We urge the GNP to strengthen checks on and surveillance of the agency to guard against any negligence.