DP head apologizes to president

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DP head apologizes to president

Ruling and opposition lawmakers will pore through the national archives to see if former president Roh Moo-hyun disavowed the de facto sea border with North Korea at a 2007 summit in Pyongyang.

Ten lawmakers selected as members of a special investigation committee of the National Assembly - five each from the Saenuri Party and the Democratic Party - will visit the National Archives of Korea, where all records regarding former presidents of South Korea are stored today.

They are looking for evidence that at the 2007 inter-Korean summit South Korean president Roh told North Korean President Kim Jong-il that he didn’t recognize the so-called Northern Limit Line (NLL) as the effective boundary between the two Koreas.

A copied transcript of the meeting declassified by the National Intelligence Service last month quoted Roh as saying contradictory and vague remarks about the NLL. The Democratic Party has insisted on seeing the original in the National Archives because it suspects the NIS altered the copied transcript to make Roh look bad.

Among more than 2.56 million records of the summit in the archives, the lawmakers will select materials by employing seven phrases in a search: “Northern Limit Line,” “inter-Korean summit,” “military boundary,” “same distance,” “same area,” “inter-Korean talks between defense ministers,” and “ministerial-level talks.”

The phrases “same distance” and “same area” were selected after Moon Jae-in, Roh’s chief of staff in 2007 and a participant in the summit, claimed that Roh was merely trying to create a zone of peace above and below the NLL in order to defuse military tensions in the Yellow Sea between the two Koreas.

According to Moon, Roh proposed the forming of a joint fishery zone to Kim in the waters of both Koreas, with its borders being the same distance north and south of the NLL.

The Saenuri Party and the National Intelligence Service argue that the zone Roh proposed was in South Korean waters only.

After the lawmakers choose the records to examine, the national archives’ officials will make two copies of the original records and send them to the National Assembly. The lawmakers will read the materials in a conference room at the assembly during office hours. They will be allowed to take notes but cannot bring cell phones or other electronic devices into the conference room.

Within 10 days they will report their conclusions to the National Assembly’s House Steering Committee.

Under the law, they should not divulge the contents of the records to the public or the media. But technically they can because they can’t be arrested due to lawmakers’ immunity from arrest without the consent of the legislature.

The lawmakers were supposed to start the investigation Friday but the Saenuri Party abandoned the schedule to protest a DP spokesman referring to President Park Geun-hye as “the offspring of someone who should not have been born.”

At a briefing Thursday, Hong Il-pyo, DP spokesman, described the president’s father, former President and military strongman Park Chung Hee, as a gwitae which can be loosely translated as someone who should not have been born.

Literally, it refers to a fetus aborted from the womb.

Hong stepped down from his position as spokesman on Friday.

“I will resign from the position of spokesman for the DP,” Hong said at a press meeting on Friday. “I feel responsible for the inappropriate remark and give my apology [to the president].”

DP Chairman Kim Han-gill also expressed his regret and appealed to the ruling party to go back to work at the legislature.

“I regret that he wasn’t more cautious with the comment,” Kim said, according to Kim Kwan-young, a spokesman of the DP.

“I hope all of the schedules will be resumed.”

The Saenuri Party accepted the apologies.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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