Cheong Wa Dae is fighting back, claiming that of the 2619 documents released by KBS’s labor union, 80% were written by the Roh Moo-hyun administration:

Following the shocking revelation that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly conducted some 2,600 cases of illegal surveillance on civilians as reported by the state-run Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) network’s labor union last week, the Blue House is claiming that 80 percent of the surveillance occurred during the Roh Moohyun administration.

Blue House spokesman Choe Geumnak said yesterday, “It has been revealed in the previous administration [Roh Moo-hyun’s] that the Prime Minister’s Office investigative team has inspected both civilians and representatives of both ruling and opposition parties on multiple accounts.”

The best part is how Cheong Wa Dae came to this realization:

A photo of a Democratic United Party representative holding the leaked documents printed in the Seoul Shinmun on Friday tipped off the Blue House that the 2,619 documents were not all from the Lee administration. The photo showed documents which dated back to Sept. 21, 2007, indicating that some were generated under the Roh administration.


Progressives, however, are countering these claims, explaining that while it may be true that most of the documents were written during the Roh administration, there is a qualitative difference between what was taking place under Roh and what was taking place under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Namely, the reports written by the Roh administration were ordinary and, more to the point, legal police and prosecutorial reports on investigations into public servants, Lee’s reports include illegal surveillance of public officials and civilians out of the Prime Minister’s office for political purposes.

Or so the Hankyoreh says. Some of the names involved might suggest otherwise:

But Choe responded to Moon, listing names of both politicians and civilians, including then-Democratic representative Kim Young-hwan as well as Incheon Metropolitan City’s basketball league chairman in 2003 and the head of the National Chartered Bus Association in 2007, and said, “I would like to know if these people are politicians or civilians to Representative Moon.”

The investigation into poet and former lawmaker Kim I find personally interesting, as I had the pleasure to interview him several years ago and make it a point to mention his dentistry during Seoul Selection’s weekend excursions around Bukchon. Interesting fellow—began writing poetry while in solitary in order to keep himself from forgetting how to talk. Anyway, according to the reports, he was investigated for influence peddling, but the JoongAng also notes that Kim, while a member of the then-Democratic Party, had served as President Kim Dae-jung’s Minister of Science and found himself in the anti-Roh camp during the 2002 presidential election.

Right now, I don’t quite know what to believe—the press is handling this matter in, as you might expect, a very partisan manner. With any luck, the partisanship will die down somewhat over the next couple of days and we’ll get a better idea of who has been looking at whom and why.