Published : 2013-10-03 19:21
Updated : 2013-10-03 19:21
The controversy over the whereabouts of the transcript of the 2007 summit between President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has entered a new phase as prosecutors have found the missing electronic document.
According to prosecutors who have been tracing the missing transcript since late July, the important document was found not where it should be ― the National Archives of Korea ― but in the computer system that Roh used after retirement.
When Roh moved to his hometown, Bongha Village of Gimhae in South Gyeongsang Province, after retirement, he took with him a copied version of the e-Jiwon system, the file management system of the Roh administration.
Roh later returned his e-Jiwon system to the government as it was illegal to keep confidential presidential records privately.
What investigators had found in Roh’s computer was traces of a summit transcript having been deleted. So they recovered the deleted file. At the same time, they discovered a separate transcript on the computer.
Prosecutors said the recovered file appeared to be the original draft, while the separate file was a revised version. According to them, the two versions were similar in content and the revised version was identical with the summit transcript kept at the National Intelligence Service. The NIS version was disclosed to the public in June.
Investigators have also confirmed that there is no summit record in the National Archives of Korea. They said they had browsed all presidential records of the Roh administration in the NAK but could not find any trace of it.
The only rational explanation for all this is that when the Roh administration transferred the presidential records to the NAK, it did not include the summit transcript.
In light of the significance of the inter-Korean summit, the transcript should have been included in the presidential records and preserved in the NAK. One cannot but suspect that someone intentionally left it out.
Now prosecutors need to find out why the summit document was omitted from the presidential records. There is a strong possibility that Roh himself ordered the omission. Prosecutors will have to verify the suspicion by questioning former aides to the late president.
One key witness is Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic Party in the December election who was the chief of staff for Roh at the time of the summit meeting.
Moon and other officials who were close to Roh have thus far collectively refused to be questioned by prosecutors. Now they should fully cooperate with investigators to establish the truth.
Some of them had previously alleged that the Lee Myung-bak administration tampered with the transcript. As prosecutors’ investigation has confirmed that these allegations were groundless, they will have to apologize for their irresponsible remarks.
They had also asserted that files could not be deleted on the e-Jiwon system. This has also been proved untrue. Now they should tell the truth and face punishment if they were involved in the mishandling of the summit transcript.