DP floor leader should apologizeMain opposition Democratic Party floor leader Park Jie-won recently argued that he had heard China’s Vice President Xi Jinping say to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung on his visit to China in May 2009 that the Lee Myung-bak administration is a “disrupter” of the Korean Peninsula’s peace process. The government has officially denied his statement. A spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said flatly that they had checked the authenticity of his remarks, but that what he said was not true.
The Blue House, Foreign Ministry and ruling Grand National Party refuted Park by saying that no one who accompanied President Kim into the meeting room - three officials from the ROK Embassy in Beijing - said they had heard Xi make such a statement. They also said they could not find any record of the statement. President Lee became furious, and his senior communications secretary went so far as to attack Park, saying he had “committed an act amounting to benefiting an enemy of the state” by exploiting diplomacy for political gain. Despite Park’s insistence on the veracity of his statement, it seems clear who is telling the truth.
Xi was declared the next leader of China at the latest meeting of the Communist Party. In May 2009, he had already been nominated as successor to current President Hu Jintao. If a leader of his status had blamed the current South Korean president in a meeting with a former president, it would have been a grave international matter. If such a thing had really happened, the Korean ambassador to Beijing would have told President Lee about it, leading to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
The Kim Dae-jung supporters still attacking President Lee’s North Korea policies would have been compelled to disclose what happened during the meeting. Given that, Park’s assertion lacks credibility. He has also been criticized for saying that President Lee’s trip to Russia in September was primarily aimed at covering up the Russian team’s results on the Cheonan sinking.
As the next leader of an economic and military superpower and the chair country of the six-party talks, Xi wields huge influence on North Korea issues on the global stage. The DP, which pursued a policy of engagement with North Korea, may harbor discontent with the conservative Lee administration. But criticism should always be based on facts as well as the principle of protecting our national interest. Park should apologize to Xi, President Lee and the public for what he did.