National Archives review begins

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National Archives review begins

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A team of 10 ruling and opposition lawmakers tasked with reviewing the original transcripts of the 2007 inter-Korean summit make a pledge of confidentiality at the National Assembly yesterday before heading off to the National Archives. By Kim Kyung-bin

A Democratic Party member has released a copy of a map to counter allegations that former president Roh Moo-hyun disavowed the de facto sea border.

Yun Ho-jung revealed the map at a press conference at the National Assembly on Sunday, saying it was a copy of the one Roh had delivered to the North during the October 2007 summit in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-il. He said the map shows Roh’s envisioned joint peace and cooperation zone in the Yellow Sea and claimed the copies came from a senior Roh administration official.

He also showed a map that revealed an “equal area” joint fishing zone proposed by the defense ministers of the two Koreas at a summit held the following month, with the standard North Limitation Line marked, which would enable South Korean fisherman to ply waters north of the demarcation line and for Northern fisherman to come south. Four fishing areas were marked on the map, which added up to about equal space on each side.

Regarding the summit, Yoon Sang-hyun, deputy floor leader of the Saenuri Party, responded, “You may already have a strategy planned, but what can you do if the player in the actual game acts in an outrageous manner. It was a summit where all the players were acting on their own accord.” He added that the DP still needs to clarify if Roh intended to nullify the NLL, saying Yun’s claims do not change anything.

The National Intelligence Service transcripts indicated that Roh appeared to agree to a proposal by Kim Jong-il and appeared to abandon the NLL when designating a joint fishing zone.

According to the DP, Roh proposed the forming of a joint fishing zone with borders the same distance north and south of the NLL, while the Saenuri Party and the National Intelligence Service argue that the zone Roh proposed was in South Korean waters only.

The Ministry of National Defense spokesman also said yesterday that the contents of the map need to be confirmed with official records. “The map is not a military map but a general one, with the demarcation line drawn in,” Kim Min-seok said yesterday, without confirming whether the map was a secret military document.

Five ruling and five opposition party members of a special investigation committee yesterday searched through documents using seven key phrases such as “Northern Limit Line,” “inter-Korean summit” and “military boundary” at the National Archives of Korea in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.

The search 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 with the same amount of space above and below the NLL in order to defuse military tensions in the Yellow Sea.

DP Representative Park Min-soo said, “While the dialogue should not have been revealed, as long as it already has been made public, we will try to clear any debate surrounding the late President Roh’s dialogue with the North.”

The lawmakers chose the records to examine and the National Archives made two copies of the originals and sent them to the National Assembly, where the lawmakers could review them in a conference room.

The 10 lawmakers were not allowed any electronic devices, such as laptops or smartphones, as they reviewed the material in a closed room between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. They could only write down notes on what they read.

After the National Intelligence Service declassified and released the transcript of a private dialogue between Roh and Kim, the National Assembly made the unprecedented decision earlier this month to release the sealed presidential records amid accusations that the initially disclosed materials were biased.

A team of 10 ruling and opposition lawmakers began a preliminary review of the original materials from the 2007 inter-Korean summit housed at the National Archives yesterday.

The team is to report its conclusions within 10 days, but can request an extension. The lawmakers return to the National Archives tomorrow.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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