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‘Song Min-soon’s memoir’ issue sways election campaign

‘Song Min-soon’s memoir’ issue sways election campaign

Posted April. 22, 2017 07:02,   

Updated April. 22, 2017 07:08

Controversy is flaring up anew over "Song Min-soon's memoir" ahead of the May 9 presidential election. Former Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Song Min-soon, who is now president of the University of North Korean Studies, disclosed on Friday a document related to his claim in his memoir suggesting that Minjoo Party presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, who had served as presidential chief of staff for the late President Roh Moo-hyun, had instructed that “First, let’s check (North Korea’s response) through the inter-Korean (communication) channel” before South Korea voted on a U.N. resolution on North Korea’s human rights. Song’s memoir entitled “The Iceberg is Moving” was published in October last year. Moon is strongly refuting Song’s claim, saying that this is a second Bukpung (literally meaning winds from North Korea) plot meant to influence election by taking advantage of North Korea, and a malign accusation of me being pro-North Korean.” National security issues are thus effectively emerging as a core concern of the upcoming presidential election, as outcry over Song’s memoir has also surfaced on top of the controversy over the North as "the main enemy (of the South).”

The memo Song disclosed on Friday reads that “We (North Korea) emphasize that if South Korea decides to adopt the (UN) human rights resolution against the republic (North Korea), a risky situation could happen in the implementation of the October 4 (2007) joint declaration and the development of North-South Korean relations.” Regarding this memo, Song said, “It is a memo that National Intelligence Service chief Kim Man-bok, who was in Seoul at the time, received from North Korea and conveyed to Baek Jong-cheon, then chief presidential secretary for unification who was staying in Singapore (on November 20, 2007).” Back then, President Roh Moo-hyun was visiting Singapore to attend "ASEAN + 3 meeting." While disclosing the document, Song said, “Please do not see it as an accusation of (presidential candidate Moon) being pro-North Korean, and instead as an issue of (Moon’s) judgement and sincerity.”

Meeting with reporters on Friday, Moon denied Song’s claim. “South Korea’s decision to abstain from the vote was made at a meeting presided by the president on November 16 (2007). (My suggestion) was meant to inform North Korea (of the South Korean government’s decision), and we did not inquire North Korea regarding the South’s stance,” Moon said. “If the National Intelligence Service discloses a telegram message it sent to North Korea at that time, my argument will be clearly verified.”

On these remarks, Song refuted again, by saying, “If (the South Korean government) informed (North Korea) of its decision to abstain, is (the message in the memo) interpreted as an answer to (the South’s) abstention?” The People’s Party, the Korea Freedom Party, and the Bareun Party all issued statements Friday to blast Moon, saying, “Candidate Moon should stop lying.”

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com · Kyung-Im Woo woohaha@donga.com