A political heavyweight of the ruling party and close confidant of President Park Geun-hye has been cleared of charges that he illegally acquired a transcript from a 2007 summit between then-President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The Seoul Central District Court announced Monday that Rep. Kim Moo-sung of the Saenuri Party “was not in a position to take care of details regarding the summit minutes,” adding that it has found no charge to indict the lawmaker.
Kim has been suspected of using the minutes to launch a smear campaign against main opposition Democratic Party candidate Rep. Moon Jae-in, who served as presidential chief of staff to the late President Roh.
Kim, during a meeting of senior Saenuri lawmakers in June 2013, said he was “surprised when reading the transcripts of the 2007 inter-Korean summit before the (2012) presidential election.”
In addition, Rep. Suh Sang-kee, Ambassador to China Kwon Young-se and state affairs chief Nam Jae-joon, among others affiliated with the scandal, were also cleared.
The prosecution only asked the court to impose a fine of 5 million won ($4,900) on Rep. Chung Moon-hun of the Saenuri Party for his involvement in leaking the classified transcripts, in violation of the public records act.
Controversy over the illegally leaked transcript erupted in October 2012, when Chung argued that former President Roh had said the NLL, which is the maritime border between the two Koreas, “should be changed” during his summit with the North.
But even a former ruling party lawmaker had urged Saenuri Party members on Thursday to take responsibility and step down for allegedly exaggerating ex-president Roh’s remarks on South Korea’s de facto sea border.
“Rep. Chung Moon-hun and Rep. Suh Sang-kee must step down,” said Kang Yon-seok, a lawyer and a former member of the ruling Saenuri Party on a talk show aired by JTBC.
The two had vowed to step down if Roh’s comments on renouncing the NLL proved to be nonexistent. Suh even said he would quit if there was “any exaggeration in his words.”
Meanwhile, the prosecution on Monday summarily indicted four lawmakers of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.
Reps. Kang Gi-jung, Lee Jong-kul, Moon Byung-ho and Kim Hyun were indicted on the suspicion of illicitly detaining a female intelligence agent in her home in Seoul for several days in December 2012.
The agent allegedly took part in the National Intelligence Service’s operation to use the Internet to sway public opinion in favor of President Park before the election.
Seven other lawmakers of the total 11 investigated by prosecutors were acquitted.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)