Was there plot to brand surviving KAL bomber a fake?
It’s shocking to hear that the Roh Moo-hyun administration made every effort to brand Kim Hyun-hee, the last surviving bomber of Korean Air flight 858, a fake, right after its inauguration in 2003. Her husband, a former intelligence agent, partly revealed this in 2009 but this is the first time that she made such testimonies in person.
According to her testimonies broadcast on a cable TV talk show last week, a National Intelligence Service (NIS) official told her to emigrate in the summer of 2003 in an effort to make it look as if ``I had fled because I was a fake.’’ A few months later, police asked her to move to other locations. Around that time, MBC TV’s “PD Notebook” asked her to appear on the program, a request which was rejected by Kim. Later, her house was shown during the broadcasting of the program, making her family ― she has two children ― vulnerable to possible attacks by North Korea. Kim said she left her home right away.
Ko Young-koo, who served as the NIS chief at the time, flatly denied her testimonies and recalled that the spy agency didn’t change its position on the bombing incident thereafter. Given that Kim’s allegations are lop-sided, we believe that objective verifications are needed.
If Kim’s testimonies are true, we can easily suspect why the Roh administration made such moves. As Kim said, the Roh regime wanted to get Kim Jong-il out of a bottleneck for the terrorist act for an eventual inter-Korean summit. We can recall that North Korea was under America’s economic sanctions as a nation sponsoring terrorism after the bombing in 1987 and Roh himself asked the United States to lift the designation.
True, there were rampant rumors that the bombing was a conspiracy by South Korea to get Roh Tae-woo elected as president that year. The liberal government’s attempt to fabricate the incident gained speed after Roh took office and the NIS, police, broadcasters, left-leaning media outlets, progressive religious groups and the national human rights watchdog were involved in the plot.
We see Kim’s revelations as crucial in that it was treason to fabricate the victim, South Korea, as a terrorist state while giving a pardon to Kim Jong-il who had 115 innocent people killed.
The Lee Myung-bak administration should be blamed for its dereliction of duty because allegations of fabrications have been revealed on and off. Belatedly, it should let law enforcement authorities start probing the case and punish those involved in fabricating facts.
What should be clarified is who in the NIS were involved in the scheme, if there was pressure from above, possibly the presidential office of Cheng Wa Dae, and why they did it. We have strong suspicions that there was a systematic attempt to label Kim a fake.
In the wake of Kim’s revelations, the ruling Saenuri Party and the minor opposition Advanced Unification Party decided to push for a special parliamentary panel to look into the case. The main opposition Democratic United Party should respond to this initiative although it took place during its regime.
Today marks the 62nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War and we hope that no other regimes will take advantage of the security issue for political purposes.