The prosecution on Thursday cleared a ruling party lawmaker of his charge of false accusations that late former President Roh Moo-hyun renounced the Northern Limit Line as the de facto sea border during a 2007 inter-Korean summit.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office decided not to indict Saenuri Party Rep. Chung Moon-hun or other party officials accused of the same charge. It said, “It is difficult to view his accusations as false.”
Roh’s alleged denial of the NLL had been one of the key issues that affected voter sentiment ahead of the December presidential election. The issue figured prominently as North Korea continued to pose a grave security challenge with missile and nuclear threats.
Chung first alleged on Oct. 8 that Roh had pledged to nullify the NLL during private, undisclosed talks with Kim in Pyongyang when Democratic United Party candidate Rep. Moon Jae-in served as Roh’s chief of staff. Moon’s camp rejected the claim as baseless.
Political analysts, at the time, cautioned against making the crucial security issue political fodder given that voters were mature enough to discern politicking.
Pyongyang has long challenged the NLL, seeking to make the seas south of the line a disputed region. The North contends the border line should be redrawn further south on the grounds that the demarcation was made unilaterally by Mark Wayne Clark, then head of the U.S.-led U.N. Command, at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Seoul claims that the NLL divides the two Koreas’ territorial waters as it has served as a de facto border for decades, and that the North, under a 1991 inter-Korean pact, agreed that the border was the line separating the de facto jurisdictional areas, which each side has controlled thus far.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org