The presidential office on Wednesday confirmed that President Moon Jae-in was briefed by Defense Minister Song Young-moo on the reform plan for the scandal-ridden military intelligence command during a closed-door meeting.
According to Cheong Wa Dae, Moon met with Song and senior presidential aides on Friday evening -- hours after the presidential office announced a plan to create a new military command to replace the Defense Security Command.
Following the announcement, the Defense Ministry said it would create the Military Support Security Command to replace the Defense Security Command, which has been accused of conducting civilian surveillance and drafting a martial law document during massive protests last year.
“President Moon was briefed about detailed plans to replace the Defense Security Command with a new military intelligence command,” presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said during a press briefing Wednesday.
Defense Minister Song Young-moo. Yonhap
On Tuesday, an unnamed government source said Song had briefed Moon about the reform plan for the DSC behind closed doors. The meeting reportedly took place Friday after Moon wrapped up his five-day vacation.
According to Kim, National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong and Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk were also present at the briefing. Kim declined to comment on the specific time and venue of the briefing.
The spokesperson clarified, however, that Friday’s briefing came after the presidential office’s announcement of replacing the DSC, responding to a question over Cheong Wa Dae’s confusing remarks.
On Friday, Chief Presidential Secretary for Public Relations Yoon Young-chan told reporters that while Moon was informed about the DSC reform plan via documents, the president had not met Song for a face-to-face briefing.
“We had no choice but to say that there was no face-face-meeting between Moon and Song because the meeting did not take place when press secretary Yoon made the announcement,” Kim said. “We don’t think it was unusual that the president received an additional briefing,” Kim added.
On the question of whether Song will keep his position, the spokesperson said Moon’s meeting with Song was “totally irrelevant” to the defense minister’s position in the Cabinet.
Kim said that while Song had requested the meeting, his conversation with Moon mostly focused on how to overhaul the DSC -- not whether Song would keep his job amid controversy over his handling of the DSC scandal.
Song is accused of delaying reporting the DSC’s martial law document to the Blue House and also engaging in confrontation with DSC officials during a nationally televised parliamentary briefing.