Moon’s irresponsible remarksMoon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party, implied that former South Korean defense minister was partly blamed for the breakdown of the inter-Korean defense ministerial meeting in November 2007 that took place for the first time in seven years. Moon said that he believed Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo’s attitude during the talks had been “too rigid.” The defense ministers failed to narrow differences on the boundary of joint fishing zone, which had been the core of the Oct. 4, 2007 joint statement drawn up after a summit meeting between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Moon was Roh’s chief of staff who orchestrated the inter-Korean summit meeting. Then he should be the last person to criticize the South Korean representative to a defense ministerial talks which addressed security-sensitive issue of changing the maritime border line. A representative to inter-Korean talks does not have authority to decide on any key issue. The delegations address to the talks under planned strategy and must closely consult with the president and his staff on any important issues.
But the-then chief presidential secretary, who should be fully aware of the circumstances at the time, implied that the talks went wrong because of the defense minister. Is he suggesting the defense minister went against the president’s order?
A special economic zone, including a joint fishing zone, created along the western coast on both sides of the border would have brought enormous economic and trade boon to both Koreas as well as helping enhance peace. Unless Pyongyang assures security safety and nonaggression, however, Seoul cannot accept its demand on new demarcation line. It was evident during the talks and still remains valid today. The onus of the breakdown in the defense ministerial meeting should be laid on the Roh Moo-hyun administration to have expected the defense minister to solve various intricate problems on his own.
No matter how meaningful the work, it cannot be pursued without gaining broad public consensus. If the government intended to surrender the Northern Limit Line for a bigger goal of creating a joint fishing zone, it should have gauged public sentiment and won consensus first. But the late-term administration had no time or will to do so. Moon said he was not suggesting that the NLL be redrawn, which means he could persuade Pyongyang to accept and respect the maritime border line as it is, if he becomes president. Otherwise, he is in no position to criticize then-defense minister.