By Yi Whan-woo
Presidential frontrunner Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is getting more aggressive in defending himself from political attacks by his rivals over his relatively flexible stance on North Korea.
Moon had previously remained low-key over such political offensives. However, he is taking campaigning tactics questioning his ideology and framing him as a North Korean sympathizer more seriously.
On Friday, a former security official unveiled a memo suggesting the Roh Moo-hyun administration consulted with North Korea before it abstained from voting on a U.N. resolution on the North's dire human rights situation in 2007. Moon was the presidential chief of staff at the time.
Using aggressive words, Moon criticized such offensives, Friday, as a new version of the "North Wind," a method of political sabotage allegedly employed by conservatives in the past to highlight issues on North Korea and national security to smear progressive candidates.
Moon also called such attempts "a new theory of color of ideology" aimed at painting him as a communist.
"This is a new version of the North Wind as we have seen from the 2012 presidential election," Moon told reporters after attending a forum in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, while on the campaign trail. "It's also a new, despicable theory of color of ideology to influence the election."
He referred to a memo disclosed by former Foreign Minister Song Min-soon in a JoongAng Ilbo interview.
Song, who also served under Roh, said he decided to release the document, purportedly obtained from Cheong Wa Dae, because Moon has been repeatedly denying Song's claim related to the 2007 U.N resolution as written in his memoir.
Song claimed the Roh administration consulted North Korea in advance before abstaining from the U.N. vote in his memoir published October 2016.
Song said there was a document backing his argument. He also said it was Moon as presidential chief of staff who proposed consulting with North Korea.
But Moon said the Roh government only made notice of Seoul's decision to abstain after it independently made the decision.
"I think the problem with this incident is the leak of government secrets through Song's memoir," Moon said.
He warned that he will "never tolerate" this smear and holds Song responsible for incorrectly interpreting foreign affairs concerning Moon in his book.
Calling the two former conservative governments "pseudo-advocates of national security," Moon said he is "sick of" the exploitation of national security in presidential elections during a campaign in Wonju, Gangwon Province, Thursday.
Citing that he served his military duty with the Special Warfare Command, he said, "Those who did not fulfill their military duty should not speak of national security before Moon the commando."
Attacks consolidate Moon supporters
In a Gallup Korea poll released Friday, Moon widened the gap with his biggest rival Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party.
He garnered support of 41 percent, up from 40 percent a week earlier, while Ahn's fell from 37 percent to 30 percent in the survey conducted from Tuesday to Thursday.
The results show Moon's supporters consolidated their support after Moon was bombarded by his adversaries for not defining North Korea as the "main enemy of the state" during the second series of televised presidential debates, Tuesday, experts said.
Ahn and the two conservative candidates -- Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party and Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party -- have been questioning Moon's eligibility as commander-in-chief since then.
"Moon's supporters must have felt a sense of urgency and a need to unite for him," said Hwang Tae-soon, a political analyst.
He also assessed that voters are "getting fed up" with linking North Korea excessively in criticizing certain candidates and that the "North Wind" is dying in the political spectrum.
"The North Wind is dying out in the presidential election campaign. The voters also seemingly have learned that conservatives, given worsening ties with Pyongyang under their rule for the past 10 years, have not been better than liberals in their North Korea policies," he said.