Fate of NLL transcript tied to Roh’s chief of staff

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Fate of NLL transcript tied to Roh’s chief of staff

After the discovery of a transcript missing from the National Archives documenting a meeting at the 2007 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, the ruling Saenuri Party attacked Representative Moon Jae-in, who was in charge of the overall management of records from the Roh Moo-hyun administration.

On Dec. 17, 2012, just two days before he lost the presidential election to Park Geun-hye, Moon said, “I was the person who was in charge of the final review on the transcript and storing it [in the National Archives] as a state record.” At the time, Moon was refuting a newspaper report claiming that Roh ordered his people to discard all of the records of his private conversation with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at the 2007 summit in Pyongyang. Moon was Roh’s chief of staff.

The summit meeting had become an issue in the campaign because ruling party figures said Roh had disavowed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto border in the Yellow Sea, in his conversation with Kim Jong-il.

In the past few months, what happened to the original transcript of the conversation has become almost as important as what was said at the meeting. At the end of Roh’s term, it was supposed to go to the National Archives but didn’t. On Wednesday, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said it found traces of the transcript on Roh’s personal computer record system in his hometown of Bongha Village in South Gyeongsang and managed to restore it.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Moon said that Roh never ordered the destruction of any document about the summit and that all the materials were transferred to the National Archives from the Blue House.

“If the transcript was not indeed transferred to the National Archives, it means Moon told a lie,” Hong Ji-man, a spokesman of the Saenuri Party, said at a briefing yesterday. “If so, Moon will have to take responsibility for this entire scandal and reveal the truth to the public.”

“Given the interim report by the prosecutors,” Yoon Sang-hyun, a senior Saenuri lawmaker, told reporters yesterday, “the transcript wasn’t missing, it was deleted. [The Democratic Party] should explain to the people who tried to delete part of our history.”

Three DP lawmakers - Park Nam-choon, Woo Yoon-keun, Jeon Hae-cheol - convened a press meeting and raised suspicions that the prosecution is trying to divert public attention from the scandal over a former prosecutor-general’s alleged love child.

The prosecution also said Wednesday that in Roh’s personal computer system there was what appeared to be an initial version of the transcript, but it was deleted by someone right before Roh’s presidential records were transferred to the National Archives from the Blue House.

Under the Act on the Management of Presidential Archives Clause 11, all presidential records must be transferred to the National Archives before the end of a president’s term. If the records are destroyed without any legal reasons, the person who ordered it could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail term or ordered to pay up to 30 million won ($27,919) in a fine.

During questioning by prosecutors in February, Cho Myoung-gyon, Roh’s security policy secretary, confessed, “Roh ordered me to delete the transcript from the list of materials to be transferred to the National Archives, so I gave that order to working-level officials.”

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

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