One secret too many

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One secret too many

Moon Jae-in, former chief of staff for Roh Moo-hyun and chairman of the Roh Foundation, has disclosed details of the Roh administration’s behind-the-scenes overtures to North Korea. In a new book, he said Roh had sent a personal letter to the North through Moon Sung-keun, an actor and ardent supporter of Roh’s.

Moon explained that the letter didn’t have a political motive, such as achieving a summit between Roh and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Instead it was sent to assure the North of Roh’s sincerity about improving bilateral relations. The actor who delivered the letter to the North refused to talk about what the letter said or how he was selected as the messenger.

Considering the gravity of South-North relations, the two Moons’ attitudes are worrisome, since they won’t say exactly what transpired, although they enjoy making statements that arouse our curiosity. The bigger problem is that the sending of a presidential letter might never have been known if the former chief of staff hadn’t decided to write about it. A high-ranking official at the Blue House confirmed Wednesday that no one from the Roh administration had informed the Lee Myung-bak administration about the event.

South-North relations are very important for all of us. The exchange of messages between two heads of state, in particular, has a direct impact on our relations, as is clearly seen by the North’s inclination to relate all issues to the joint declaration in Pyongyang by former President Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il on June 15, 2000.

Therefore, every exchange between the two leaders must be precisely recorded and described to the succeeding administration so that it can be fully informed when formulating its policies on the North. Even during the days of dynasties, every move of kings was chronicled by officials. Regrettably, however, aides to former President Roh didn’t inform the next administration of what they did in Pyongyang, let alone hand over records.

The government can, of course, keep secret its dispatch of a special emissary to Pyongyang. But even when such a need arises, it is wrong for an administration not to record presidential decisions and transfer the information to the next administration. It would be extremely risky if a government dealt with the North without knowing what the previous administration did.

North Korea knows what our former president wrote about. The two Moons must disclose all the details of the secret approach to Pyongyang.

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