N.Korea Threatens to Release Tapes of Secret Meeting

      June 10, 2011 12:48

      North Korea's National Defense Commission on Thursday threatened to release tapes of a secret inter-Korean meeting last month where the North says the South offered money for a series of cross-border summits.

      An official from the commission's policy department who was at the meetings warned Pyongyang will "release voice recordings of the entire meeting to the world" if South Korea "refuses to disclose the truth." The official was quoted by the state-run KCNA news agency.

      A Unification Ministry official challenged the North to omit nothing. "As Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said in the National Assembly on June 2, we don't have transcripts of any voice recordings. The government's position is that the North should disclose everything and distort nothing if these voice recordings really exist," he said.

      Former lawmaker Jang Sung-min, who headed the Cheong Wa Dae situation room said on Thursday "North Korea has always taped meetings, so it probably taped the secret inter-Korean meeting using a recorder pen. But it is unlikely that it will release the recordings. The threat looks like a mere tactic to achieve its real aim."

      But Democratic Party lawmaker Park Jie-won on Thursday tweeted the North should "immediately cancel its plan" to release the tapes. "Doing so will make it subject to international reproach, as well as enrage and disappoint those who are making efforts for genuine peace on the Korean Peninsula." On June 3, Park had been the first to suggest that there are transcripts of voice recordings from the meeting.

      The commission's policy department is believed to be an arm of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance, which masterminds attacks against the South.

      A North Korean news program on Thursday reports an interview with a National Defense Commission official who took part in a secret inter-Korean meeting last month. /[North] Korean Central TV-Yonhap

      ◆ Sowing Discord

      A ministry official said North Korea's aim in making the secret meetings public and threatening to release the recordings is "to cause conflict in the South and drive our government into the corner."

      Pyongyang denied the South Korean claim that the aim of the meeting was to get an apology from the North for last year’s attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island. "Unification Ministry official Kim Chun-sik said the secret meeting was arranged with direct instruction and approval from President" Lee Myung-bak "to realize a summit,” the North Korean official said.

      ◆ Causing Embarrassment

      The regime tried to embarrass the South Korean government by saying the South Korean delegates "entreated" and "begged" for a summit. It claimed that when the meeting came to a rupture, National Intelligence Service official Hong Chang-hwa, took an envelope of money from a suitcase on the instruction of Kim Tae-hyo, the presidential secretary for national security strategy.

      He said Hong tried to put the envelope into a North Korean delegate's hand, but the North Korean threw it away, and Hong blushed and became nervous. Hong then clumsily picked it up and he was so ashamed he could not even say goodbye properly, the official said.

      Former NIS deputy director Han Ki-bum dismissed the account. "The North is trying to cause conflict in the South by embarrassing the government, making it look as if it were playing a double game" by maintaining sanctions against the North while seeking an inter-Korean summit behind the scenes.

      ◆ Blowing Hot and Cold

      Nam Sung-wook, the director of the Institute for National Security Strategy, said the North seems to be playing a game. "They must have concluded that now is the time to ratchet up the pressure" on South Korea, he said.

      A government official said, "The North is trying to blame the South for the rupture of inter-Korean dialogue and is seeking ways to talk directly to the U.S." But many experts believe the North meant to send a message that there will be no further dialogue with this administration, whose term ends next year.

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