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Moon sues Song for libel, slander, leaking secrets

Ex-minister testified DP candidate sought Pyongyang’s input
Apr 25,2017
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Former Foreign Affairs Minister Song Min-soon leaves the University of North Korea Studies in Jongno District, central Seoul, Monday, after announcing his resignation as president. [YONHAP]
Top presidential contender Moon Jae-in sued former Foreign Affairs Minister Song Min-soon for libel Monday, denying he sought Pyongyang’s advice before abstaining from a United Nations resolution on North Korean human rights violations in 2007 while serving as chief of staff to then-President Roh Moo-hyun.

In a complaint filed with the Seoul Central District Court, the main opposition Democratic Party also accused Song of violating the Public Official Election Act, which prohibits slander against candidates, and the Presidential Records Act, which bans the leak of confidential government information.

The prosecution has yet to say anything on the matter.

Song, who since 2015 served as president of the University of North Korea Studies in Jongno District, central Seoul, tendered his resignation Monday, saying he was “uncomfortable” that the institute was becoming mired in the political conflict.

During an exclusive interview with the JoongAng Ilbo last Thursday, Song disclosed a Blue House document purportedly showing Pyongyang’s opinion on how Seoul should vote on the UN resolution. Moon supported Seoul’s decision to seek Pyongyang’s opinion before the vote at the time, Song claimed, but has been lying about his involvement and the fact that the two governments secretly discussed South Korea’s vote.

Over the weekend, Moon acknowledged Seoul reached out to Pyongyang before the vote, but claimed it was to say that the local government had reached an internal agreement to abstain. His campaign team on Sunday disclosed transcripts of a Nov. 16, 2007, security policy meeting presided over by Roh, in which the ex-president was quoted as saying, “Let’s not take any risks, even if we’ll have to pay the costs.”

Roh was also documented as saying, “Let’s abstain this time.” The UN vote was held on Nov. 21, Seoul time.

Moon’s campaign team also revealed handwritten memos from Park Sun-won, then-presidential secretary for unification, foreign affairs and security, of a Nov. 18, 2007, Blue House meeting, which appeared to show early drafts of Seoul’s cable to Pyongyang that hinted the abstention.

Accordingly, the South Korean government told the North that its Foreign Affairs Ministry flexed its muscle in the international society to “ease the wording” against the North in the UN resolution, and no matter what stance Seoul took in the vote, it would live up to the October 4th North-South Declaration. An abstention was not explicitly mentioned in the memo.

The October 4th North-South Declaration refers to a joint agreement signed between Roh and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2007 during an inter-Korean summit, the second of its kind since division.

Moon said Seoul’s abstention was finalized on Nov. 16, and that the Nov. 18 meeting was held on the grounds to confirm this. South Korea sent a cable to the North on Nov. 19 informing it of the decision, he claimed.

Song denied this, saying he sent a handwritten letter to President Roh after the Nov. 16 meeting that pleaded for him to approve the UN resolution, adding that the Nov. 18 meeting was held for further discussion, which ended without conclusion.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]