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(EDITORIAL from the Korea Herald on July 26)
End the NLL dispute
Disappearance of transcript should be probed

It is a shame that the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party have been spending all their time quarreling over an issue that has absolutely nothing to do with improving people’s livelihoods or creating jobs.

   The two parties have been embroiled in futile political strife over the allegations that former President Roh Moo-hyun offered to make a concession regarding the Western maritime border to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during their 2007 summit in Pyongyang.

   To establish the truth, opposition lawmakers, especially Rep. Moon Jae-in, Roh’s chief of staff at the time of the summit and the DP’s candidate in the December presidential election, demanded access to the classified original summit transcript believed to be at the National Archives of Korea.
So the National Assembly resolved with a two-thirds majority to allow lawmakers of the two parties to peruse the top secret presidential records and disclose part of them using their parliamentary immunity. But to their dismay, the electronic file in question was missing.

   This unexpected development has added a whole new twist to the drawn-out dispute, as an investigation into the whereabouts of the electronic file has become inevitable.

   If a probe is launched, it will zero in on the opposition party’s pro-Roh faction as some of its members, including Moon, were involved in transferring presidential records, including the summit minutes, to the National Archives.

   On Tuesday, Moon issued a statement to clarify his stance. He argued that the whereabouts of the missing document should not be allowed to divert people’s attention from the central question, which was whether Roh had really offered to surrender the Western sea border or not.

   A clear answer to the question, he claimed, had already been given by the summit minutes disclosed by the National Intelligence Service, which showed that Roh had never proposed to abandon the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border.

   In this regard, he said that whether the original summit minutes existed or not in fact did not matter much.

   Moon’s statement was contradictory and irresponsible, given that he strongly suspected the authenticity of the NIS version and was most vocal in calling for the perusal of the original transcript. At least, he should have apologized for all the fuss.

   On Wednesday, DP chairman Kim Han-gil came forward to take responsibility for creating the embarrassing situation. Saying that he was the person who made the final decision to access the classified transcript, he apologized for the fiasco.

   He also proposed to find the truth behind the missing file though an investigation, either by prosecutors or by a special counsel, and to put an end to the whole controversy over the NLL.

   Kim’s proposal resonated with some Saenuri lawmakers. As he proposed, the futile dispute over the NLL should be brought to an end. But to put it to rest, DP’s lawmakers should first recognize that the NLL is the nation’s Western maritime border and join their Saenuri counterparts in resolving that they would defend it by all means.

   And the pro-Roh faction should explain to the public what had happened to the summit transcript, as Roh is suspected of ordering the destruction of it and other materials that show him in a negative light.