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NIS: The Beginning and the End of "NLL Controversy"
By Kim Jin-woo, Shim Hye-ri
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The National Intelligence Service (NIS) is now taking the center stage in the controversy over the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea of Korea, as the real the origin of all disputes. As the search for 2007 North-South Summit Minutes at the Presidential Archives finally ended in vain, the full text kept by the NIS has practically become the 'only copy' at present.

It means that the sources of current and recent debates must have been exposed by the NIS.
Suspicion seems to be turning into certainty: it seems now almost certain that the NIS leaked the 'minutes' material, which has been allegedly used by then-candidate Park Geun-hye's campaign in the 2012 presidential election. The current situation tells us that the NIS is the one and only source of the information on NLL, which has been shared among and used by the ruling party in its political attacks last year.

The National Intelligence Service Building Front / Yonhap News



Right before the 2012 presidential election, the ruling Saenuri Party strengthened its attacks regarding former President Roh Moo-hyun's alleged 'remarks on abandoning the NLL.' On October 8, 2012, at National Assembly inspection on the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, Rep. Chung Moon-hun disclosed that there existed confidential minutes. According to him, "Former President Roh said, 'The NLL is a trouble for us. It is a line arbitrarily drawn by the United States in its efforts to win more territories뻞ence the South will not claim the NLL in the future.'"

A voice-recording file containing the words by Kwon Young-se, ambassador to China and former chief of campaign operations for Park Geun-hye, was unburied. In this voice-recording on December 10 last year, Kwon said, "It is no problem to get the material [minutes]. The source [of the material] will be either Cheong Wa Dae or the NIS. And we will open [go public with] it once we come to power."

Rep. Kim Moo-sung, former director of Park's campaign, made a comment in this regard while canvassing in Busan on December 14: "Former President Roh said, 'Regarding the NLL issue, there is no evidence in terms of international law; nor is there any logical ground. This is not a constitutional matter, either.'" Rep. Kim's expressions exactly correspond to the full text revealed by the NIS, to almost every letter and punctuation.

All these circumstances demonstrate the possibility that the minutes leaked before the presidential election last year, to be used by Park's campaign.

A high level official of the ruling party also gave a statement on what happened prior to 2012: "Cheong Wa Dae under Lee Myung-bak government was reported of the full text of the minutes in 2009 and the excerpts in 2010, by the NIS."

At the National Assembly inspection on the Office of President conducted on October 25 last year, Chun Young-woo, then-presidential secretary of foreign affairs and national security gave a testimony, which can be summed up as the following: "Two years ago, not long after I was appointed to be the presidential secretary [in October 2010], I have seen [the minutes maintained by the NIS]."

Suspicion gets stronger here: no matter what channel they went through, the minutes managed by the NIS must have been disclosed and then transferred to the presidential election campaign organized by the Saenuri Party.

This is why the opposition parties are looking at the NIS from a new angle, for being behind the leakage of the minutes at the time of 2012 election and behind the ruling party's consequent political assails.

Rep. Park Ji-won of the opposition Democratic Party had an interview on the SBS radio on July 23 and said, "In the first place, the real problem is that the record in the custody of the NIS has leaked during the presidential election, to be taken advantage of by the Saenuri Party in the campaign."

Rep. Jung Chung-rae, the opposition secretary in the Special Committee of the National Assembly Inspection, remarked, "We can determine later whether [the minutes kept by the Presidential Archives] is really absent or just evaded our search this time. What became clear now is the fact that the one and only source of leakage is none other than the NIS." He added, "Nam Jae-joon, director of the NIS also said that the NIS version is the original and authentic copy. What [Reps.] Chung Moon-hun and Kim Moo-sung read must have been revealed to them by the NIS. This issue will be closely examined at the special committee of the national assembly."

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