[EDITORIALS]Don’t let the affair pass lightlyThe uproar caused by the leaking of confidential papers by a Foreign Ministry official working in the Blue House is not settled yet. So far, the Blue House has verified only one of the confidential papers this official, Lee Jong-heon, has allegedly leaked. An internal investigation by the Blue House and an intelligence inquiry have been launched to search for other officials who have leaked other confidential papers. On the other hand, as it is expected that there will be reaction from a “hardline self-reliance” faction that supports Mr. Lee, the development of the situation calls for people’s attention.
This affair has clearly shown what a big consequence can be caused as a result of the misguided behavior of a diplomat who, in his pursuit of an ideal, neglected the real situation of our country. This official, known to be an enthusiastic supporter of President Roh Moo-hyun, has worked in the National Security Council and also as the head of the Foreign Ministry’s department in charge of treaties. At that time, he was a leading advocate of establishing a foreign policy independent of influence from the United States. Foreign Ministry officials explained that he and his two younger colleagues claimed that Korea, not the United States, should be in charge of bilateral negotiations.
Of course, even government officials have the right to express their opinions. Fluent communication between senior officials and their subordinates is also desirable in that it helps establish sound policies. However, these officials went beyond the point of expressing and communicating their opinions. In their confidence that their opinion was the only truth worth listening to, they accused government officials who negotiated the transfer of the U.S. military base at Yongsan and the new policy of “strategic flexibility” for U.S. forces in Korea of being “subservient” to the United States. They paid no attention to the view that the U.S.-Korea alliance is crucial to Korea’s security and that negotiations should be based on “give-and-take.” In particular, these officials started acting rashly after they received support from “386 generation” presidential aides in the Blue House. One foreign ministry official said that many senior officials in the ministry had been wary of these three officials. These officials are responsible for acting self-righteously and abusing the influence they held over those in authority in order to control the foreign policies of this government. They even stooped to the level of leaking confidential papers when they felt that their intentions in forming foreign policies were about to be thwarted. They must have thought that public opinion would be on their side once they leaked those papers. These officials,in complete disregard of their basic duties as civil servants, were so convinced in their ideology that they committed an act that is unthinkable for a Blue House official.
The government should discipline these officials and their supporters and make sure that there is no more internal strife. It should not let this affair pass by lightly. It should investigate this case with a determination that it will put an end to these habitual breaches of confidentiality.