Liberal Presidential Hopeful Says Conservatives Attacking Him Out of Fear
SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ruling and opposition parties on Tuesday continued to engage in a fierce battle over the content of a memoir written by a former foreign minister that hinted an opposition contender for the presidency may have been involved in consulting Pyongyang on a foreign policy issue.
"If the content of the book is true, it would be tantamount to giving up South Korea's sovereignty and an act of apparent treason," Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader of the Saenuri Party said.
A memoir by a former foreign minister recently claimed Seoul abstained from the 2007 U.N. resolution on North Korea's human rights after hearing Pyongyang's opinion, and that Moon Jae-in, former head of the Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK), was involved in the process.
Moon was serving as chief of staff to then-President Roh Moo-hyun at the time. On Monday, Moon said he cannot remember details of the circumstances that took place in 2007, further sparking the controversy. His vague stance is allowing Saenuri to attack the former party chief.
"We again urge Moon to give a clear answer whether he received an approval from Kim Jong-il before casting a veto (on the U.N. resolution), and stop beating around the bush," the conservative party whip said.
The lawmaker added Moon must come up with a clear explanation to rising suspicions concerning the situation in 2007.
South Korea's main opposition, however, urged the ruling party to halt its attacks on a key liberal presidential contender.
"The book is extremely supportive of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and remains negative in every part that Moon is mentioned," said Rep. Kim Kyung-soo of Minjoo, who is considered a spokesperson of Moon. Ban whose second term ends this year could run in the 2017 presidential race as a conservative candidate.
During an interview with MBC Radio, Kim argued the book did not provide accurate facts, adding the writer should have consulted others before the publication. Kim added Saenuri's attack on Moon is merely intended to hide problems facing the government.
Rep. Woon Sang-ho, MPK's floor leader said Saenuri should stop bashing its former head over ideology issues, that are irrelevant.
"We need to ask ourselves, if the Korean Peninsula under President Park Geun-hye at present is safer than back when the two Koreans held continuous conversations," Woo said. "The essence of the issue is there."
Political pundits said the parties are set to show no concessions on the issue, as the issue could play a crucial role in next year's presidential race especially as Moon has been leading the pollster among the opposition bloc, while the ruling party does not yet have a popular candidate.
Ex-Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, meanwhile, reiterated that the details in the book are true.
"As a person who worked as a civil servant for 30 years, would I have written things that are not true?" Song asked. "The book was to look towards the future by looking back on the past."
Song said both ruling and opposition parties must reconsider the on-going quarrel, also condemning Saenuri and the government.
"Saenuri must take a look at what President Park Geun-hye and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak have done over the past nine years, and rethink existing policies," Song added.
Moon continued to refrain from making a clear stance whether the book's claims were true on Tuesday, but slammed the ruling party for sparking what he calls an ideology fight.
"The controversy only comes as I am leading in the polls, and they are afraid of me," Moon said, adding Saenuri is only taking advantage of the scandal to disperse the public's attention from irregularities involving the government.
"I do not think the people will buy Saenuri's efforts to spark an ideology fight with something that happened 10 years ago," Moon said, adding the ruling party is attempting to gather supporters by focusing on national security.
"The administrations of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye not only failed in economic solutions, but also in security and inter-Korean relationships. People are worried about North Korean nukes and war," Moon claimed.'