Published : 2013-10-27 10:23
Updated : 2013-10-27 10:23
South Korea's ambassador to China came under pressure Saturday to clear allegations that he had leaked a top-secret inter-Korean summit record ahead of December's presidential election to discredit the then opposition candidate.
The allegations raised against Kwon Young-se was a key topic during an annual parliamentary audit into the South Korean Embassy in Beijing on Saturday. Opposition lawmakers pressed Kwon to clarify the allegations against him.
Kwon denied the allegations, saying, "I have nothing to be ashamed of."
The row is over the 2007 summit between the then South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. During the summit, Roh allegedly made remarks that critics said apparently undermined the legitimacy of South Korea's border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea, commonly called the northern limit line (NLL).
The issue has set off intense political friction in South Korea as well as its relations with North Korea. During the audit, opposition lawmakers repeatedly pressed Kwon to clarify the allegations.
The South Korean envoy in China was a top campaign strategist for the then ruling party candidate. Park Geun-hye. Park won the election, beating her opposition rival Moon Jae-in, who was Roh's presidential chief of staff when the inter-Korean summit was held.
Weeks after Kwon took up the post as ambassador to China, Rep.
Park Beom-kye of the main opposition Democratic Party made a revelation in late June that Kwon apparently obtained parts of the summit transcript and leaked them during the presidential campaign.
"Ambassador Kwon is being cited as one of core figures over allegations of leaks of the NLL transcript and election meddling by the NIS (National Intelligence Service) and the military," Rep. Won Hye-young told Kwon during the annual parliamentary audit on the embassy in Beijing.
"So, it is very important for you to clear up these allegations in doing your job as ambassador to China," Won said.
Kwon denied the allegations, accusing the main opposition Democratic Party of "making a personal attack on me with an illegally-obtained and manipulated record."
The inter-Korean sea border was the scene of several bloody clashes between the navies of the two Koreas, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides.
North Korea has never recognized the NLL, drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations forces at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce. It demands that a new border be drawn further south. (Yonhap News)