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Tag: Roh Moo-hyun

Late Pres. Roh ‘anti-American, crazy’: Bob Gates

In his recently published memorir, former SecDef Bob Gates paints an unflattering picture of late Korea President Roh Moo-hyun:

Gates recalls a November 2007 meeting in Seoul with the liberal-minded president, whose diplomatic and security policy is still being debated.

He calls Roh “anti-American and probably a little crazy.” Roh was quoted as telling Gates that “the biggest security threats in Asia were the United States and Japan.”

I must confess it’s nice to see Roh was telling both the Americans and North Koreans the same thing. Important to stay on message, you know.

Unsurprisingly, Gates liked working with Lee Myung-bak, more.

You’ll recall Roh’s attitudes led him to get pwned by Gate’s predecessor.

Anyway, perhaps more interesting was Gates’s claim that President Lee and Company really wanted to lay the smack down on North Korea following the 2011 shelling of Yeonpyeong-do, but the United States leaned on Seoul to limit its retaliation:

“South Korea’s original plans for retaliation were, we thought, disproportionately aggressive, involving both aircraft and artillery,” Gates wrote in his memoir.

“We were worried the exchanges could escalate dangerously,” he added.

Over the next few days, Gates said he, US President Barack Obama and then secretary of state Hillary Clinton had numerous telephone calls with their South Korean counterparts in an effort to calm things down.

“Ultimately, South Korea simply returned artillery fire on the location of the North Koreans’ batteries that had started the whole affair,” he said.

The Korean government is declining to comment on this, but they probably don’t need to. After all, this isn’t the first time a former US official has made such a claim.

Roh agreed to abandon NLL: National Assembly intel committee lawmakers

Saenuri Party lawmakers on the National Assembly intelligence committee say they’ve read the sections of the conversation record from the 2007 inter-Korean summit where President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il discussed the West Sea NLL, reports the Chosun Ilbo.

And more to the point, they say Roh made a statement that suggested he wanted to abandon the NLL. To sum up, Roh said he agreed with Kim that the NLL needed to be changed and called for it to be turned into a “zone of peaceful cooperation.” Kim responded by suggesting Roh abandon its laws regarding the NLL so that the two sides could enter working-level discussions on creating said zone, to which Roh said, “Yes, fine.”

They also said the sanctions the US placed on BDA in 2005 were a “clear American blunder.” Best of all, Roh also told Kim that if you poll South Koreans, the country they hate the most is the United States. When asked which nation threatens peace the most, South Koreans respond with the United States at No. 1, Japan at No. 2 and then North Korea.


Much, much more here. The stuff in these documents come from NIS reports in 2009 when the LMB administration was secretly preparing for a possible summit with the North. Wanna play a game? Guess which leader said the following about the BDA sanctions, Roh and Kim Jong-il:

“분명히 얘기를 하는데… BDA 문제는 미국의 실책인데… 북측에 손가락질하고 북측보고 풀어라 하고, 부당하다는 거 다 알고 있습니다.… 뭐 제일 큰 문제가 미국입니다. 나도 역사적으로 제국주의 역사가 사실 세계 인민들에게 반성도 하지 않았고 오늘날도 패권적 야망을 절실히 드러내고 있다는 인식을 갖고 있으며 저항감도 가지고 있습니다.”

If you guessed Roh, you would have guessed right. Among other things, Roh also apparently expressed a desire to build a light water reactor for the North instead of the United States, bragged about sinking OPLAN 5029, and much, much more. Oh, and as for Kim Jong-il supposedly agreeing to the stationing of US troops in Korea during the 2000 summit with Kim Dae-jung, what KJI actually said appears to be more along the lines of “the US troop presence is useful because I can use it to drum up anti-American sentiment at home.” Which is remarkably frank, but also not the line of steaming BS the DJ administration tried to sell the South Korean and American publics.

PS: Yes, the reason the Chosun is going big with this is probably to distract the public from the ever growing evidence that the NIS was engaged in some serious nonsense during the last presidential election. It’s still fun reading through this stuff, though.

So, back to question of whether Roh wanted to give up the NLL…

Last week, prosecutors decided NOT to prosecute Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Moon-hun—whom we discussed here—for spreading false information:

Prosecutors said Thursday that they will not charge a ruling party lawmaker for claiming that late President Roh Moo-hyun made remarks undermining the legitimacy of the western sea border during the 2007 inter-Korean summit meeting.

Wrapping up the investigation into claims and counter claims raised by political parties, prosecutors said the remarks by Rep. Chung Moon-hun cannot be viewed as false information.

Prosecutors, however, did not clarify whether the former liberal president actually had made such remarks.

The conservative papers just loved it—they read the ruling as a confirmation that Roh had in fact offered to surrender the NLL:

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday stated it is “hard to refute the claim that former President Roh Moo-hyun disavowed the NLL [Northern Limit Line] during the 2007 South-North Summit,” indirectly confirming that Roh made the remarks in a secret meeting with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, as Chung asserted in October.

Former Roh administration folk released a statement soon after the judgement claiming Roh never gave up the NLL, with at least one of them calling for the transcripts to be made public. This is interesting, because that’s precisely what a lot of conservatives are calling for, with the major exception being the conservative in Cheong Wa Dae, who for turf and security reasons is not particularly keen to do so.

I don’t have the time or energy to translate the editorials, but if you read Korean, here’s the Dong-A‘s, and here’s the Chosun‘s. You can probably guess what they have to say on the matter. However, even the Seoul Shinmun–which usually leans left—even conceded that it looks like Roh sent North Korea the wrong signals by telling them things that made it look like he wanted to surrender the NLL.

Did Roh give up the NLL, or didn’t he? And if he did, what does it mean?

This whole mess over the NLL is getting more interesting that I thought it would get.

The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) said they plan to take legal action against presidential security secretary Chun Yung-woo and an unspecified official responsible for record keeping at the country’s spy agency, for violating existing laws governing non-disclosure of highly classified files.
Chun said Thursday during a parliamentary audit session that he saw a transcript of the 2007 inter-Korean summit two years ago that is held by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), although he declined to elaborate on its contents.

The NIS has confirmed that it has a copy of the official summit transcripts.

The NIS director, for his part, doesn’t think the transcripts should be made public, and what’s more, there’s no “secret transcripts” of conversations between ex-president Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jong-il.

The Hankyoreh thinks the NIS’s testimony should have brought the NLL issue to a conclusion. As Korea’s paper of progressive record sees it, Chung Moon-hun’s claim that the NIS and Unification Ministry possessed a secret transcript—given to them by the North Koreans!—in which Roh tells KJI that Seoul would no longer claim the NLL since it was simply a line drawn by the Americans to grab more territory was revealed to have been a lie, and it’s that lie that kicked off the Saenuri Party’s calls for a parliamentary investigation and even President Lee’s visit to Baengnyeong-do. Sure, since we can’t release the official summit transcript in the NIS’s possession, you can think maybe something’s in there, but the officials who accompanied Roh to Pyongyang all say he never gave up the NLL, so the Saenuri Party should just shut up and repent.

The Dong-A Ilbo, of course, begs to differ—they want to see what’s in the transcript. Harmonizing protecting secrets with the right to know and all that. The head of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee has asked the NIS to allow him to see the documents, which I’m guessing he can as secret documents can be viewed by anybody with clearance (which I would certainly hope he has). I confess, even if Chung Moon-hun was talking out his ass (and the Saenuri Party says he ain’t), the opposition’s, well, opposition to even reviewing the documents—and the Hankyoreh’s concern for state secrets—have got me quite curious. What’s in there they don’t want the Saenuri Party to see?

Something else has me curious. A couple of days ago, I read an interview in OhMyNews with Professor Moon Chung-in, who served in the Roh administration and is frequently cited in the Western press. He argued the NLL wasn’t a territorial line—either under Article 3 of the ROK Constitution (which claims the entirety of the Korean peninsula) or according to American CIA documents—and to claim it as a territorial line would violate Article 3 since this would in effect be recognizing North Korea as a sovereign state, and then the NLL would become a UN Law of the Sea issue. It’s an interesting interview—if you read Korean—and while he says he’s certain Roh didn’t tell KJI he’d give up the NLL, Moon does say that even if he had, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Moon is also on record—not by his own choosing—discussing the summit and the NLL in a 2007 US State Department cable leaked via Wikileaks:

(C) Moon said the NLL (Northern Limit Line) issue should not be considered a military or sovereignty issue since that would be an acknowledgement of perpetual division of the Peninsula. Instead, the NLL was simply a fisheries issue and, while complicated, could be solved by the two Fisheries Ministers so that both North and South Korean boats could fish in the West Sea. This issue was pressing, Moon said, since PRC fishing vessels were already encroaching in West Sea fishing grounds.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking Roh is recorded saying something about the NLL.

So, did President Roh give up the NLL to Kim Jong-il?

Well, that’s what the GNP Saenuri Party is saying:

Late President Roh Moo-hyun allegedly agreed with North Korea during his landmark inter-Korean summit in 2007 to nullify the U.S.-drawn de facto western sea border, a lawmaker claimed Monday.

“During the Oct. 3 South-North Korean summit in 2007, the late former President Roh Moo-hyun held one-on-one talks with late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il,” Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Moon-hun said in a parliamentary audit of the Unification Ministry.

“Minutes of the undisclosed dialogue show Roh telling Kim Jong-il that the NLL is a headache. It was unilaterally drawn by the U.S. trying to win more territory,” Chung said.

A Saenuri Party lawmaker is calling for a special investigation into the claim as well as allegations that the Roh administration offered to give Pyongyang 100 trillion in won in aid.

Ordinarily, I’d say this was all BS aimed to discredit Moon Jae-in—who served in the Roh administration—and Ahn Cheol-soo—who has brought in a lot of Engagement Policy folk into his campaign—ahead of the presidential election. That said, the statement about the NLL does sound like something Roh would have said, so I won’t rule it out.

And you thought LMB was bad?

Sure, cancelling the scheduled signing of a landmark intelligence pack with Japan just an hour before the big event is pretty embarrassing.

Still, it’s helpful to put things into perspective. And to do that, you could always count on the Roh Moo-hyun administration to illustrate what foreign policy incompetence really looks like:

Rep. Chung Mong-joon (photo), former leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, said Monday, “The Roh Moo-hyun administration proposed that the U.S. define Japan as a hypothetical enemy.”

“President Roh proposed it because the general public had bad feelings against Japan and Korea had a territorial dispute over the Dokdo islets with Japan,” Chung told reporters at the National Assembly, adding, “Washington was very embarrassed since it had hoped Korea and Japan would go hand-in-hand as free and democratic countries. A hypothetical enemy in English implies a main enemy. This happened in a ministerial meeting in which commanders as well as ministers were attending.”

Pretty impressive, even for an administration that brought you diplomatic war on Japan, the Northeast Asia balancer doctrine and Gando.

(HT to… Gerry)

From Roh’s Mouth (or Pen)

According to his posthumously published memoirs, late President Roh Moo-hyun spent the first day of his 2007 visit to Pyongyang getting harangued by North Korea’s No. 2 man Kim Yong-nam:

The late former President Roh Moo-hyun was pressed to listen to a lecture delivered by then North Korea’s No. 2 man Kim Yong-nam on the first day of the second inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang from Oct. 2 through 4 in 2007.

During the 45-minute session, the North’s chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly literally “rebuked” the South Korean leader for the government’s alleged indecisive North Korea policy which Kim described as heavily influenced by “foreign forces.”

Roh was one of the two South Korean Presidents who sat down one-on-one with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Wonderful. Just wonderful. This was quite telling, too:

“During the morning session, I got the sense that North Korea felt expressions like ‘opening up its economy to the world’ or ‘economic reform’ were intrusive. It seemed these phrases made the North Korean leader feel uncomfortable,” Roh said.

In an effort to move the talks forward, Roh was determined to address his concerns during a luncheon meeting with South Korean delegates where he said North Korean officials were also present to listen to what he was going to say.

After taking the floor, Roh said “I think our South Korean team used inappropriate words such as “opening up the North Korean economy” or ‘economic reform in the North’ often without thinking about how our North Korean counterparts would feel when hearing them.”

He added, “So I think we had better refrain from referring to touchy issues as much as we can.”

Right. Because it’s important to consider the feelings of a nation that sends its No. 2 guy out to lecture a visiting head of state.

President Roh Funeral Open Thread

I don’t mind critical comments of the late president, but please, keep them respectful.

BTW, is doing live video of President Roh’s funeral.

Roh News and Rumors

Gyeongsangnam-do’s police chief said he believes late President Roh Moo-hyun jumped after sending his bodyguard on an errand.

Thanks to the bodyguard’s lies, though, it looks like a reinvestigation will be unavoidable, reports the Kookmin Ilbo.

And — since we at the Marmot’s Hole are nothing if not concerned about reader satisfaction — we give you the rumors.

Nope…No Cynicism There

Scott was at yesterday’s memorial ceremony in front of Deoksugung Palace, and took photos to prove it.

OhMyNews was at the memorial, too.

On a separate note, Rep. Chung Dong-young attempted to pay his respects at Bongha Village, but was stopped at the village entrance by Roh supporters yelling “Down with Chung Dong-young!” Some supporters apparently threw, ahem, night soil at Rep. Chung, too.

Breaking News: Former President Roh Moo-hyun Dead

I’m at a loss for words — police say embattled former President Roh Moo-hyun died this morning after falling from a hillside as he was hiking this morning.

Police are currently investigating whether it was an accident or a suicide. I’m not going to jump to conclusions, even though some of the news reports I’m hearing seem to be.

UPDATE: Former Cheong Wa Dae chief of staff Moon Jae-in said Roh left behind a simple note for his family, indicating a suicide.

Yonhap is reporting the same, that a close aid — my guess, probably Moon — told them he left behind a note, and this would suggest the former president had killed himself. The aide added that he’d heard Roh was exhausted from being investigated by prosecutors.

UPDATE: Let me issue a brief eulogy.

No, I didn’t like the man, either as a president or an ex-president, and as for the trouble he found himself in recently, well, he had mostly himself to blame — if you spend five years trumpeting your moral superiority over the opposition and then try to sink their presidential candidate with an independent probe into a financial scam right before the election, you’d better be sure you don’t have any ethical skeletons in your own closet.

That said, I do believe the man was treated unfairly in some quarters of the media and political establishment while he was president. Granted, there were plenty of legitimate reasons — many of them policy-related — to give the guy a hard time, but one got the strong suspicion that the attacks on the President Roh were not necessarily based on what he did or how he did it, but rather on who he was. He was from outside the establishment (granted, he seems to have learned eventually), a self-taught lawyer and populist. And because of this, he was never really given a chance.

Although then again, even if he’d been afforded one, I doubt he’d have done anything with it other than piss it away, like he did with his post-impeachment wave of support.

For all of Roh’s faults, though, he must be given credit for this — he was the first Korean president who actually acted like the head of state of a democracy and not an elected dictator. He practiced a presidency with limits, and for this, he deserves the nation’s gratitude. And for all the fear mongering, the Korean economy grew pretty healthily under Roh, he managed to get the FTA signed, and the Korea-US alliance didn’t completely collapse under his watch. He wasn’t a complete disaster, and I hope people remember that.

At OneFreeKorea, Joshua has his own thoughts on Roh’s death.

UPDATE: Roh’s suicide note has been released:

The note Roh left reads, “Many people have been suffering too much because of me. The sufferings that will come are also too enormous. I cannot do anything due to bad heath. I cannot read nor write. Life and death are just one piece of the nature, aren’t they?”

Roh also said: “Don’t be sorry. Don’t blame anyone. It’s all destiny. Please cremate my body and leave just a small tombstone near my home.”

His aides found the note saved in a file in his computer. The note indicates his suicide was premeditated.

Roh apparently asked his bodyguard for a smoke right before he jumped.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have declared an end to their investigation of Roh…which one suspects might have been the point of the suicide.

I don’t want to predict any fallout — it’s too early to tell, of course. Nevertheless, you already have debate about the manner in which the prosecutors investigated Roh, and more worrying, the ever-classy Democratic Party saying in a statement — read with tears, reportedly — that the people and history knew who and what brought about the tragic end of a former president. Party officials also complained about the prosecutors, who they accused of treating Roh without the proper respect due a former president and leaking information about the investigation. With the Democratic Labor Party and New Progressive Party also castigating the prosecutors’ investigation, this could get ugly, especially since LMB and Co. have shown only slightly less PR finesse than the Khmer Rouge.

My guess, though, is that among the names the Democratic Party won’t bring up is Nam Sang-guk.

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