Main opposition party links spy agency scandal to NLL controversy

By 윤민식
  • Published : Jun 21, 2013 - 09:43
  • Updated : Jun 21, 2013 - 10:44
The main opposition Democratic Party on Friday proposed disclosing the minutes of a controversial 2007 inter-Korean summit in exchange for conducting a parliamentary probe into a scandal surrounding the national spy agency.

The proposal comes one day after the ruling Saenuri Party claimed that it has seen official government records backing up allegations that late President Roh Moo-hyun tried to nullify the de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas during his meeting with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The allegations stirred up controversy ahead of last December's presidential election because the then DP candidate, Moon Jae-in, had served as Roh's chief of staff when Roh allegedly made the remarks.

The ruling party has argued that Roh's remarks amounted to a denial of South Korea's sovereignty, as North Korea does not recognize the so-called Northern Limit Line (NLL) and demands the line be redrawn farther south.

By law, the summit's minutes can be made public only in special cases, such as with two-thirds approval from the National Assembly.

"The DP is willing to disclose the summit's minutes ... under (relevant) parliamentary laws," Rep. Kim Han-gil, the DP chairman, said at a Supreme Council meeting. "However, I stress that a parliamentary investigation into the National Intelligence Service (NIS)'s interference in last year's presidential election must come first."

The scandal surrounding the NIS centers on allegations that the spy agency's then chief, Won Sei-hoon, instructed agents ahead of last year's election to post comments online in favor of then ruling party contender and now President Park Geun-hye.

Last Friday, prosecutors indicted Won and then Seoul metropolitan police chief, Kim Yong-pan, on charges of interfering in the election in violation of the country's election law.

The DP has since stepped up calls for a parliamentary probe, citing an agreement in March between the parties' then floor leaders to conduct the probe as soon as the prosecution completed its investigation.

On Thursday, the two parties agreed to go ahead with the parliamentary probe, saying they will try to pass a proposal for the investigation during this month's extra parliamentary session that ends on July 2.

If proven, the scandal could hurt the legitimacy of the Park administration, although the DP has said it is not challenging the election results.

The ruling party has been reluctant to begin the parliamentary probe, arguing that prosecutors have yet to look into allegations that the DP mistreated an NIS employee accused of posting the online comments, violating her human rights.

The ruling party has moreover called on the prosecution to investigate allegations that the DP promised to give a then NIS official a promotion in return for leaking confidential information from the spy agency, if it won the presidential election. (Yonhap News)