Moon Jae-in, the leading presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, was embroiled in controversy Friday over his role in South Korea's abstention from the 2007 U.N. resolution on North Korea's human rights during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
The controversy erupted after former Foreign Minister Song Min-soon disclosed a document in a JoongAng Ilbo interview supporting a claim in his memoir that Moon had initiated a consultation with Pyongyang prior to the U.N. vote. Moon was serving as presidential chief of staff at the time and Song headed the foreign ministry from 2006 to 2008.
The speculation that Moon had consulted Pyongyang about the U.N. resolution was first raised when Song published his memoir "Moving the Glacier" last October. However, the media lost interest in the memoir in the wake of the corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil. With the presidential election imminent, the fresh evidence supporting Moon's role in the abstention has dealt a blow to Moon's campaign.
During the entire campaign, Moon has continued to be dogged by labels such as "leftist" and "pro-North Korean" by his political opponents. Moon is leading in public opinion polls, but there are still a lot of people who are skeptical of his ability to serve as commander-in-chief. He did not properly answer a question from presidential contender Yoo Seong-min of the conservative Bareun Party about whether he deemed North Korea as our main enemy during a TV debate. He also made some rash claims regarding the North, such as visiting Pyongyang before Washington if he is elected president.
Since Moon is a frontrunner in this election, he has a responsibility to present a clear view on North Korea to voters. If he does not properly deal with the latest allegations, he will continue to be badgered by them even after he arrives at Cheong Wa Dae. If Song's allegations are true, Moon should explain why he sought Pyongyang's opinion. His truthful explanation is necessary if he wants to reassure voters he will be a strong leader against North Korea.