+ A

Under Park, Archives also had blacklist, says a panel

Jan 16,2018
The National Archives of Korea under the previous Park Geun-hye administration also created a “blacklist” targeting certain experts and excluding them from government-related committees, a Ministry of the Interior and Safety panel revealed on Monday.

The Interior Ministry set up a 14-member civilian task force to review abuses within the National Archives, and following its probe, the panel requested a further prosecution investigation into Park Dong-hoon, former chief of the archives under the Park administration, for involvement in maintaining such a blacklist.

According to the task force, the former head of the archives, Park, submitted a report on March 26, 2015, to Chong Jong-sup, former government administration and home affairs minister, detailing plans to exclude 20 “problematic” experts from eight committees in preparation for the Congress of the International Council on Archives (ICA) to be hosted in Seoul in 2016.

The archives were said to have reported to the minister plans to gradually replace such problematic experts by not renewing their tenures when their terms expired and added that measures had already been taken to replace three such members of a preparation committee.

One of the three members requested to be replaced was revealed to have been Lee So-yeon, the current president of the National Archives.

Park served as president of the National Archives from October 2014 to February 2016.

Ahn Byung-woo, history professor emeritus of Hanshin University and head of the task force for the innovative management of the archives, said on Monday in a press conference, “Though we secured evidence that the National Archives excluded certain figures and reported to the related minister on this, we were not able to confirm who the 20 members on the list were due to the limitations in our investigative authority.” Ahn said he hopes that a prosecution investigation could reveal the details of the creation of a blacklist.

The task force also found that the Lee Myung-bak administration’s planning and management office was behind the complaint filed in 2008 against former President Roh Moo-hyun aides alleged of leaking presidential archives.

The task force further said that the National Archives was involved in the removal of a sign by the main entrance by the late Shin Young-bok, a former professor emeritus of SungKongHoe University, calligrapher and pro-democracy activist who had been imprisoned under the Park Chung Hee regime for espionage in 1968 for 20 years. The sign, with Park’s calligraphy on it, had been used by the archives since 2008 and was found to be removed in 2014.

A civilian organization filed a complaint in October 2013, and “without precedent,” the archives took this as an agenda, said Ahn, who pointed out that “Prof. Shin’s character was attacked in remarks made by some members across two meetings of the presidential archives management committee, not abiding by their obligation to stay neutral.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]