The blind leading the blindIt has come to light that Ahn Hee-jung, President Roh Moo-hyun’s close friend, contacted North Korea secretly with Mr. Roh’s approval and discussed sending a special envoy to the North. The Blue House secretary for information and policy monitoring and a Uri Party lawmaker were also deeply involved in the affair.
Mr. Ahn said, “I played no role in inter-Korean relations,” but it turned out that he was lying. The Roh administration repeatedly emphasizes “reform” and “transparency,” but this incident shows the low level of this administration’s morality.
There are also other serious issues associated with this incident. The president and a few of his close aides secretly pushed forward an important initiative in North Korean policy. It is understandable that confidentiality is crucial for a sensitive matter such as the summit, but there are official organizations to deal with inter-Korean matters ― they were completely ignored. It is unimaginable that a few people with no expertise in North Korean affairs made such an important decision. It has been a recurring problem for the Roh administration that those sharing the same views and visions make policy decisions while ruling out professionals and specialists. It appears this practice has returned.
It is also unbelievable that a businessman and a current affairs magazine reporter were able to move the Blue House and Mr. Ahn. In this country, there are several government bodies that deal with North Korea, such as the National Intelligence Service and the Unification Ministry. Enormous amounts of tax money have been spent so that they can manage the dialogue channels with North Korea and keenly pay attention to affairs in the North. Over the past decade, the government has also been providing a large amount of assistance to the North.
But this administration still failed to build a credible behind-the-scenes channel with North Korea. That is why the government took its lead from a businessman’s mysterious intelligence. The Roh administration must think about how the Kim Jong-il regime will view its actions.
The National Intelligence Service and the Unification Ministry must look back and find where they went wrong, if they failed to build a credible dialogue channel that can be quietly operated because they were too focused on giving aid to the North.
The Blue House and the Uri Party should also get away from the temptation to create an opportunity to revive their plunging support by arranging an inter-Korean summit.