Time for some truth

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Time for some truth

The ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea have been engrossed in a mud fight for nearly a week over bombshell revelations in a memoir by former foreign minister Song Min-soon, who served in the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Song wrote that the liberal government eventually decided to abstain from a United Nations’ vote in November 2007 on a resolution to denounce North Korea for its human rights violations — after asking Pyongyang’s advice.

There has been much backpedalling by former Roh administration officials since. The only really important thing at this point is what Roh’s chief of staff Moon Jae-in — now a strong presidential contender — has to say. He allegedly said that the administration determined to confirm North Korea’s positions on the UN vote through various inter-Korean channels before fixing the government’s position on the vote. That’s convoluted. What we need from Moon is a simple yes or no. Did Seoul ask Pyongyang’s advice in advance? That’s enough.

At the time, the two Koreas were enjoying a kind of honeymoon in their relations. Despite Pyongyang’s first nuclear test in 2006, it was believed that inter-Korean dialogue could lead to the denuclearization of North Korea. The Roh administration held onto that possibility. That is why a prime ministerial-level meeting was held in Seoul in November 2007 following a summit between Roh and Kim Jong-il a month earlier. Under such circumstances, it could be hard for the government to vote for the UN resolution on North Korean human rights violations. If that’s the case, Moon must explain the background and leave a final judgment to the people. Such transparency is demanded of a politician, and certainly of a promising presidential candidate for next year’s election.

Former foreign minister Song insists that what he wrote in his memoir is entirely accurate. Remarks by then-presidential spokesperson Cheon Ho-seon or testimony by U.S. and Japanese diplomats involved also suggest that Song’s memories are correct. Moon only reiterates that he cannot remember. He even asked reporters to ask other people who remember better.

Moon’s opaque way of speaking about one of the most sensitive issues in Korea only fuels suspicions. Citizens are closely watching to see how he would react to a crisis on the Korean Peninsula. If Moon avoids an answer to what really happened in 2007, how could he make a decision involving our national security if he becomes the commander in chief? He must tell the truth.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 20, Page 34

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