Records are national assetsHeated debates are now raging between the Blue House and the previous President Roh Moo-hyun over an allegation that Roh took some confidential information from the Blue House’s online archive when he left office in February.
The Blue House claimed that Roh took the entire hard disk of the presidential office’s archive server computer. Blue House officials also said Roh and his aides are now operating their own online archive system, based on confidential information they took from the presidential archive, at Bongha Village where Roh now resides. Some of the information is highly confidential, including records about North Korea’s nuclear programs and human resource files.
But Roh’s staff claims it took copies for parts of the archive only. According to them, all former Korean presidents have a right to view administrative records made during their tenure. However, the National Archives of Korea informed the Roh camp, when Roh was about to step down, that some technical difficulties would not allow those outside the Blue House to access such records for the following year. So, they instead took copies of the records, according to Roh’s staff.
All records within the presidential office do not belong to a president or a certain administration, but they are priceless assets that belong to the entire nation. And Korea’s laws on presidential record management bars anyone from taking such confidential information out of the presidential office. If the archive operators said those outside the Blue House cannot access the archive, then Roh should have waited or discussed other options with Lee Myung-bak’s Blue House to access the records.
Also, it is quite stunning that Roh and his aides tried to transfer the confidential information by creating their own online archive system, meaning it was planned meticulously.
The authorities need to investigate the matter immediately and find out who should be held responsible for the matter.
They should investigate how far Roh went in possible violation of the law and who should be held responsible, so a mishap like this never takes place again.
All former presidents have a right to have to access administrative records made during their tenure.
Such a right is necessary for them to write memoirs that will leave records of past government to our descendants.
But those activities should be made possible within the bounds of law.