Moon must tell the truthSong Min-soon, a former foreign minister under President Roh Moo-hyun, claimed in his new memoir that Moon Jae-in, former head of the Minjoo Party of Korea, wanted to check with Pyongyang before Seoul voted in a 2007 UN resolution on North Korean human rights violations while he was the chief of staff. Seoul ended up abstaining from the vote. Lee Jae-jung, then-unification minister, and Kim Man-bok, then head of the National Intelligence Service, both under Roh, denied the account. Song claimed what he said was true as steel.
How key officials could differ in the account of how Seoul arrived in abstaining from a UN vote on North Korea is baffling. The matter must not be shrugged off. It is a grave matter if Seoul abstained after tapping Pyongyang’s opinion as Song claims.
Regardless of whether Seoul took an action after taking account of Pyongyang’s position, the matter raises questions about Moon’s qualifications as a national leader. Moon refrained from directly speaking about the matter. Instead, he said the majority opinion was accepted by Roh after lengthy talks among policymakers and that President Park Geun-hye should learn from the Roh administration about decision-making.
Moon must think he should evade any problems about North Korea. But such ambiguity only fans suspicion. He must speak frankly on the issue and seek public understanding on how a decision was reached. Moreover, a policy on North Korea on which the nation’s security interests hinge should not be decided mechanically through a vote.
Moon also has an equivocal position on North Korean human rights issues. He said Seoul abstained from the UN vote because inter-Korean relations were on a smooth footing. But human rights issue should be dealt with separately. Ensuring basic human rights is a universal value all civilizations should pursue. The more we value North Korean human rights issue, the more the international community will back our policy.
Moon is the leading candidate for the next presidency. His position on North Korea and security is important at a time when Pyongyang is perfecting its nuclear weapons. He must not regard the latest controversy as an ideological attack. He must tell of the circumstances before he is forced to. He also must tell the public how he aims to solve the nuclear and human rights problem.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 17, Page 30