You call that intelligence?On the eve of the presidential election last year, Kim Man-bok, then National Intelligence Service chief, secretly visited North Korea. After the intention of the secret visit became an issue, Kim explained that he went there to deliver a stone monument to mark a memorial tree planting and help remember the inter-Korean summit of October last year.
More details about the visit were revealed yesterday. When the Roh Moo-hyun delegation visited the North for the summit, it brought a 250-kilogram (551 pounds) monument, but the North opposed its installation. Thus, the delegates came back to the South with it. After negotiations with the North, a 70-kilogram stone, a quarter of the initial size, was transported to the North along with Kim.
As a state guest, Roh planted the tree, so it is only natural for the North to build a monument for its citizens to view. However, the guest showed up with a grand stone monument of 250 kilograms.
The presidential election is one of the most important events in a nation, and the eve of such an election is a day when the chief of the National Intelligence Service should be on full alert. The story about the rejected 250-kilogram stone monument is embarrassing, but now we face an even more serious embarrassment by learning that the intelligence chief secretly crossed the border to visit Pyongyang with a 70-kilogram stone on the eve of the presidential election. The dignity of the National Intelligence Service has plummeted to its lowest level. It would have been less embarrassing if the speculations were true that Kim’s visit had other secret intentions, rather than the stone monument business.
As if the embarrassment was not enough, Kim later leaked a confidential record of his conversation with the North’s top intelligence official. The president tried to defend him, sitting on his resignation for 27 days.
In September, Kim was photographed with a negotiator during South Korea’s negotiation with the Taliban in the hostage crisis, exposing his identity. The National Intelligence Service issued a press release praising Kim’s activity. Perhaps he has a plan to run for the April legislative election.
What will other countries’ intelligence agencies think as they see the behavior of Korea’s intelligence chief? Under the Roh administration, the dignity and authority of many things was tarnished. But the head of the National Intelligence Service stooped the lowest. Kim and President Roh, who tried to shelter him, committed the crime of ruining this country’s dignity.