End the bickering

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End the bickering

More than a year has passed since the relentless political bickering began over what was said at a 2007 inter-Korean summit. The issue was ignited by the explosive remarks made by Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Moon-hun at the National Assembly’s regular audit of the government. Chung claimed that former President Roh Moo-hyun had allegedly disavowed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border on the Yellow Sea, at a meeting in Pyongyang. The stunning claim had an impact on the results of the 2012 presidential election. The National Intelligence Service’s eventual declassification of a copy of the meeting’s transcript following the launch of the Park Geun-hye administration only fueled the controversy.

Then it turned out that the original transcript was not transferred to the National Archives by the Blue House at the end of Roh’s term. The ruling and opposition parties are now fighting over whether or not to release an audio recording of the conversation kept by the NIS to the public. After prosecutors found no reason to indict lawmaker Chung for violating the National Secret Management Law, they are investigating the case to determine whether or not to punish those involved in the cover-up.

Immediately after the top spy agency released a summary of the transcript, we ran an editorial opposing any revelation of the full text after both parties called for it in a rare show of unity. We believed it would damage our national interests instead of ending the controversy. We were correct: The controversy has only become more heated. In the meantime, the legislature has put aside truly pressing issues. As a result, people have become sick and tired of the ceaseless political battles.

Both parties’ vows to stop political battles have ended up nowhere. Saenuri Party leader Hwang Woo-yea’s proposal to end the bickering through a bipartisan resolution - stressing that there’s no disagreement between the parties on the need to defend the NLL - was followed by the Saenuri floor leader’s call to release the audio recording to the public. The fight continued when NIS chief Nam Jae-joon was summoned to the Assembly the next day. He reportedly said he will give a written answer to lawmakers if both parties want to listen to the tape. We hope he didn’t mean the spy agency is willing to be at the center of the mess again. Almost all the facts about the content of the transcript have been laid bare. It’s time to leave it alone.
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