2006-12-22 09:39:00
Embassy Seoul
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DE RUEHUL #4367/01 3560939
R 220939Z DEC 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 004367 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2014

Classified By: Amb. Alexander Vershbow. Reasons 1.4 (b,d).


C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 004367



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2014

Classified By: Amb. Alexander Vershbow. Reasons 1.4 (b,d).


1. (C) President Roh Moo-hyun delivered angry and
provocative remarks on December 21 to National Unification
Advisory Council, criticizing three former Ministers, Goh
Kun, Kim Geun-Tae and Chung Dong-young and railing against
former defense ministers and generals. Taking 70 minutes to
deliver remarks that were only allotted 20 minutes, Roh spoke
extemporaneously about the Six Party Talks and BDA, wartime
operation control (OPCON) and the country's sovereignty. In
an address that offered as many questions as statements, Roh
appeared to be "thinking out loud" as he spoke about the
principles and beliefs that serve as the basis of his
domestic and foreign policy decisions. Roh's stated purpose
of the speech was to clarify the principles that were guiding
the government, recognizing that many in the public feel the
government is without principles, or clear direction, in its
decision-making process. In the end, Roh may have done more
to confuse and enrage the public as the press once again
seized the opportunity for controversial headlines. The
Ambassador conveyed to FM Song Min-soon that these remarks,
both in tone and substance, were not helpful for the U.S.-ROK
alliance. Song attempted to walk back and explain some of
Roh's remarks. See paragraph 6 for an unofficial English
translation of excerpts from Roh's remarks.


2. (C) In a meeting with Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, the
Ambassador expressed concerns about Roh's speech. He told
the Foreign Minister he was surprised by the tone of some of
the remarks that seemed to indicate the United States could
not be trusted, was an unreliable alliance partner, and was
responsible for the lack of progress in the Six-Party Talks.
FM Song responded with an attempt to explain away and walk
back some of President Roh's more controversial statements.
Please tell Washington that President Roh was not complaining
about the Alliance, Song urged. Rather, he meant to point
out that what he was doing as President was good for the
Alliance, but that he had been unduly criticized for causing

the Alliance to deteriorate. Regarding the President's
comments about the U.S. Department of the Treasury, President
Roh had pointed out that Treasury was acting in accordance
with U.S. laws and regulations in the Banco Delta Asia (BDA)
case, Song explained, while he believed the State Department
was focused more on international political considerations.
FM Song told the Ambassador that President Roh lamented the
Korean people's psychological dependence on the United
States. When we can stand alone we can be better allies to
the United States. Otherwise we will always be a burden to

3. (C) FM Song attributed the controversial headlines to
President Roh's speaking style, noting that the Korean
president speaks in a complicated way when expressing his
views. The press exploited that by selecting quotes that
made the president look negative, Song suggested. He asked
the Ambassador to convey to Washington that he (Song
Min-soon) had told President Roh on December 21 that the
United States is working very hard and showing flexibility
and enthusiasm at the Six-Party Talks and that Treasury has
been very businesslike in its discussions with the DPRK on
the BDA issue. Song stressed, however, that both he and
President Roh felt it was very important to get the BDA issue
behind us in order to move the Six-Party process forward.


4. (C) In response to Roh's speech, North America Division
Director General Cho Tae-yong said in a December 22 meeting
with Political M/C that President Roh was mainly concerned
with criticizing those who had been critical of his policies.
For example, the President was highly critical of the former
generals who disagreed with the Roh's push to transfer OPCON
at an early date. In addition, Roh supported the Zaytun
deployment to Iraq; the relocation of Yongsan Garrison; and
the concept of strategic flexibility. He also criticized the
notion that U.S. troops should be used as trip wire. In
essence, President Roh was making the case that the alliance
was in good shape and that, contrary to the assertions of his
critics, he had actually improved the relationship. Cho said
that this speech, delivered without prepared remarks, was a
"quintessential Roh speech."

5. (C) DG Cho also said that it was regrettable that the
press had mischaracterized President Roh's comments on BDA.
According to most newspaper accounts, the President said that
the BDA enforcement actions had doomed the September 19 Joint
Statement. Cho acknowledged that the President said that the
Joint Statement had been "buried the moment it was born," but
pointed out that the President went on to say that "spring
will come" and the Joint Statement will serve as a foundation
upon which the cold war structure on the Korean Peninsula
could be dismantled and a multilateral security dialogue can
be established. President Roh also said that the Joint
Statement provided an opportunity to resolve the North Korea
nuclear issues, but North Korea delayed the whole process of
implementation on the pretext of financial issues. Pol M/C
replied that it was not helpful to the U.S.-ROK joint efforts
in the Six Party Talks if the President even appears to cast
doubt on the USG's good faith intention to implement the
Joint Statement. These remarks were certainly not consistent
with the recent meeting between the two Presidents in Hanoi,
POL M/C said. Cho insisted that President Roh was very
satisfied by the USG's strong determination to fully
implement the Joint Statement.


6. (U) Unofficial English translation of excerpts from Roh's

There are a lot of things to talk about, but what I wanted to
emphasize the most today is "principles." But the public now
perceives the government as if it were a government without
principles. It's a sad thing. But there's nothing we can do.
If I say I'm sad and angry, that would be another problem.

That's the way I am. Even long before I became a president,
whenever I had chance to speak, I never forgot to say
something about "trust." The society would be maintained if
there was trust, even if it's not a full democracy, whereas
it cannot be maintained without trust, even if it's a
democratic society. So I used to say that I put the highest
priority on trust as the most important social value. But
it's embarrassing to see the reliability of policy constantly
being an issue.

It goes the same with consistency. It is related to trust.
It's about life. The same is true for national consensus. So
the principles that I emphasized for this government are
causing criticisms now. I'll try to do better. Or maybe this
would be a chance for me to look at things with
cool-headedness. This is homework for me. I won't surrender.
But there is no way to prove that.

North Korea

The conditions, situations, and people's mindsets are all
very different between North Korea and South Korea. As some
would say simplistically, reciprocity is a principle that
says, "you hit me and I'll hit you back." But the
inter-Korean relationship is not that simple.

Rather than tying things with the principle of reciprocity,
we would have to judge on a case-by-case basis, considering
whether certain thing is in line with what we pursue--peace
and trust. I'm not talking about unilateral concessions, but
trying to earn the trust in the longer term, and judging what
would be more beneficial for both Koreas, until realizing a
greater goal through dialogue. In this regard, please
understand that the policy concept that stand opposite
reciprocity is pragmatism.

I did not practice my veto on the laws on investigating the
illegal fund transmittal to North Korea. I have never
expressed my opposing views either. Although this is a
controversial issue, I know that the people want transparency
in inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges. The universal trend
of our society is a greater demand for transparency, even if
it relates to "governing action." And I thought it is the
right thing to accept the people's demand.

In fact, it's not that there is absolutely no room for
"supra-legal governing action" in inter-Korean relations. I
think it is probable--but the Chief of State can take
governing actions transcending laws only when the people
accept that. If the people do not universally accept it, I
thought it would be difficult. It was inevitable at that
time. I don't know if it was right or wrong, but it was my
choice. And couldn't this be another "principle"?

There were also some minor incidents. Based on principle, I
ordered to stop talks with North Korea when North Korea first
stopped dialogue. Once they followed my order, but since the
Ministry of Unification is a government agency trying to make
things happen, there were some instances where I made orders
but the Ministry of Unification said that the particular case
was a little different--they would make a little different
interpretation, and try not to cut the dialogue altogether. I
did not hold them accountable for that, because I didn't
think it was worth it.

Still now a lot of aid to North Korea has come to a halt.
This is about principle, but also about strategic choice. The
current stoppage of aid to North Korea is not so much based
on principles (such as humanitarian or reciprocity),as on
strategic basis that this would be more advantageous.

I agree with all other principles of simultaneous action and
separation of government and private sector. I'll endeavor
along that line. Committee member Chung Min just said that we
need to convince the USG and Congress. Although the
government hasn't expressly used the terms like
"non-nuclear," but we are headed toward that direction. On
this point, we may need to coin a good policy name or just
use this term. Let me think about it.

And then there was a suggestion that we should pursue the
broader agreement on dissolving the Cold War structure and
establish a peace regime, hand in hand with resolving the
North Korea nuclear issue. The September 19th Joint Statement
mentions just that. It has a clause on negotiating a peace
regime, and also the NE Asia multilateral security system. So
the September 19th statement may seem useless, since it seems
to be drifting apart right now, but it contains a whole new
concept of NE Asia multilateral security system.

Six-Party Talks

The September 19th statement came when the ROK played the
leading role in North Korea issue. After that, the U.S.
backed down a little, or rather, stuck in the BDA issue. This
is really intriguing for myself. While the September 19th
statement was still being written in Beijing, the US Treasury
Department had already frozen North Korea's BDA account a
couple of days before.

My thinking is that the U.S. State Department didn't know
about it in Beijing and came all the way up to this point
without being able to resolve the BDA issue. Or if we look at
it from a negative perspective, the two issues may have been
planned ahead and done this way on purpose.

On the other hand, the Treasury and State Departments seem to
differ on interpretation of principles concerning the issue.
So there may be some room for political flexibility. We're
guessing that the Treasury would be inclined to go by the
book, by the law, but still it's hard to know clearly.

So that's how the September 19th statement was buried as soon
as it was born, but spring will come, and it will bud, and be
a stepping stone for us to dissolve the Cold War structure
and consolidate peace on the Peninsula, and pursue a NE Asia
multilateral security system, or a peace regime. We will be
headed in that direction.

North Korea Policies

You have talked about consistency and consensus, and I'll
make efforts toward that. There are a lot of talks about
forming a consultative body on North Korea policy, comprising
the so-called senior leaders from all backgrounds. But the
hardest part about bringing them together is that they cannot
communicate with each other. They use different language. We
experienced colonial rule, excessive ideological
confrontation, a war, and military dictatorship. All along
the process, we tend not to tolerate or recognize each other.
So we don't use the same language. We have different
perceptions. So the cause is good, but it has not been

So I tried to realize it by appointing Goh Kun as my
government's first PM. I hoped he would be a bridge between
the conservatives and myself. But I ended up ostracizing
myself and my aides in this government. The person in the
middle did not converge those on the extremes but rather
became isolated. As a result, I consider this personnel
appointment a failure.

I also tried to emulate the U.S. president Lincoln's
personnel affairs policy by engaging political rivals when I
appointed Kim Geun-tae and Chung Dong-young as Cabinet
ministers. But the difference between Lincoln and myself was
that he was praised for his actions, but I was cursed for
that. It's hard to imitate Lincoln--not much fun.

So this is the National Unification Advisory Council. This is
an issue concerning unification, foreign affairs, and
national security policy. From a broader perspective, this is
included in, or closely related to, the area of national
security. Or, maybe this is the other side of the coin. Why
do we have to unify our nation? To live better? To live a
more humane life? But the more essential goal would be to
secure peace. This is the first and foremost issue, and then,
through that, it would be good if we could become more

It would be a more humane life to become integrated with
those who are our blood, who use the same language, and who
share the same culture. To that end, we should unify. And for
that purpose, peace is the essential concept for security.

What is security, then? Both winning in a war and peace are
the purposes of security. But in its unique term, security
would mean peace, or national activity aimed at peace.
Preventing war, rather than winning a war. So it would be
good to clarify the purpose of our security, which is peace,
rather than winning a war.

Then how can we do it? Through dialogue. There are cases
where confrontational atmosphere is constantly created for
the purpose of security. In other words, trying to solidify
security through being on alert against the opponent. And
hostile emotions are involved here. Distrust as well. If
security were to prevent war, it would be sufficient to have
capability to fully defeat the enemy upon its attack, without
being hurt, or with just a minor injury. This would
constitute a perfect security readiness.

And then make the enemy acknowledge that it cannot defeat us
through attack. Cannot defeat, therefore cannot occupy and
cannot dominate. Let's think about this stage. What does it
all mean if you win but cannot occupy? What is the war for,
if you occupy but cannot dominate? So if there were no
possibility, anyone with common sense would not start a war
in the first place. So making ourselves undefeatable would
deter the enemy from waging a war. How far should we go in
comparison of power, where should we put our goal? The enemy
will not do an outrageous thing--it will assess its

But we should find out if our adversary is in its right mind,
or completely out of his mind, or an outright fool. So this
is the basic premise. So when you are at a presidential
campaign debate, when panels ask you what you thought about
Kim Jong-il, if you thought he was a reasonable person, if
you answer "yes," you come under fire. But "no" would not be
an easy answer, either. So this is a unique political culture
of Korea where you get questioned on those hard-to-answer
issues. But I would say he would have a judgment of his own,
from a certain aspect, fit for a communist regime, or Juche
ideology. In other words, he wouldn't do anything that would
kill himself.

We may imagine that a person may do whatever is necessary if
completely cornered. But we haven't quite reached a consensus
on whether he is completely out of his mind to a point where
he would risk actions that would eventually kill him, or he
is just an abnormal person. So the Korean society cannot even
concur on that point. Some say Kim Jong-il must at least be
in his right mind, but some say he is completely out of his

And if you say, "he may be okay," then you'd be bashed for
that. So that is how the ROK works. We monitor our safety
based on such criteria. When we say we prevent war to a
certain extent, there should be no injury when a war does
occur. But when there is a war, you get many injuries even if
you win. There are a lot of losses, so you must prevent it
from happening. And the issue of setting criteria of our
deterrence--should we presume Kim Jong-il is a normal person
or not--has been the cause for a serious, serious fight
within the ROK.

What we see in newspapers these days--albeit cartoon-like
talks--are all based on this controversy. In other words,
anyone in his right mind would not provoke the ROK since it's
tantamount to suicide, and so I think we just need
appropriate management of security. But people who don't
agree seem to want to verify my ideology. When I nominate a
Cabinet minister, he is asked in the NA hearing about whether
the Korean War was an invasion by North Korea or South Korea.
They're thinking that I would appoint a person who doesn't
even know whether the Korean war was an invasion by South or
North as a Cabinet minister. It's not fair. I am sane.

So this is what makes it difficult. Everything must be
resolved through dialogue, not through war or power. And the
big premise for dialogue is the recognition of the other,
which is the basic principle of a democracy. You should be
open to the possibility that his opinion may be right. Isn't
this what "relativism" is all about?

Tolerance is the premise for dialogue. We try to resolve
inter-Korean issues through dialogue, and we try to put
dialogue before war or use of force. And this is what
security through dialogue is all about.

So we're trying to have dialogue with North Korea, but we
have different perceptions. And we try to have dialogue
amongst ourselves, we have different perceptions about
values. There was a case in our history where 8,000 people
were killed in 1866 on grounds for having believed in
Catholicism, or engaged in Western studies. So while we
should adopt the good parts of our ancestors, we must be
aware of the fact that there were also dangerous elements in
our traditional ways of thinking. We should reflect on our
culture of "killing" anyone who stands on the opposite side.
So we should overcome the culture of completely eliminating
anything different from oneself.


And I would like to see our security front quieter. Security
can be maintained quietly, but the people tend to be relieved
only when the government makes a great deal out of security.
North Korea launched missiles--from northern Gangwon province
to off the coast of North Hamgyeong province. It was clear
the missile weren't coming toward South Korea. Wasn't
everyone aware of that?

Political, security situation is something that gradually
changes, not something that happens overnight. It wasn't
anything like a war would break out that very day. Still,
should the government have announced that North Korea
launched missile, and so the people should buy up instant
noodle packages and put on their gas masks? Should the
government have announced a state of emergency even before

It was reported in the morning. My aides called for an
emergency security meeting, but I said let's not do it,
there's no reason to startle the people.

So we decided to convene at 11 o'clock as a Cabinet
ministerial meeting. There would have been no difference in
dealing with the situation whether if we did it as a cabinet
meeting or security meeting, whether a 5 o'clock meeting or
an 11 o'clock meeting. No difference in the result, and no
difference in making decisions.

But I was so badly bashed for not having been noisier, not
having terrified the citizens. Let's not do that. Let's be
quiet. The ROK has sufficient national and military
capability to safeguard the security even without all the

I've raised the defense budget. Many of my supporters said I
should cut defense budget and use it for welfare, but I
raised defense budget. That was because I thought military
capability against North Korea is not the whole story.
Rather, having a strong defense capability on all fronts was
important, lest foreign military forces should come play war
on our soil--that was the case when Korea fell victim of the
Japanese invasion, Sino-Japanese war, and the Russo-Japanese
war during the power vacuum on the peninsula due to a weak
military power.

So until the complex, potentially hostile relationship with
China, Japan and the U.S. is turned into a multilateral
security regime or a community in NE Asia, the ROK must be
equipped with reciprocal defense capability.

So that is why I couldn't cut down on defense budget. But
there is no reason, no need to make people feel insecure
about our North Korea policy. Our security is good even
without doing so. But the poll results say I am doing poorly
in security--so I think politics are very difficult. Whenever
I try to stick to my beliefs, I get bashed. But still, I
cannot stop. I must change what must be changed, even if that
means the public disapproves me, I must do the right thing.
Wasn't this the reason that the presidency cannot be

U.S.-ROK Alliance

Why did I dispatch troops to Iraq? Why is the relationship
with the U.S. so bad? I don't think it's bad, but people ask
me that way. At first when I was elected president, there
were a lot of talks of an armed attack on North Korea,
concerning North Korea nuclear issue, mostly in newspapers of
the US and Korea, and that caused the people a lot of
insecure feelings. So that's why I said attacking North Korea
is a non-starter.

Then the people who'd led our national security said that
would irritate the U.S., that Roh would disrupt our
relationship with the U.S. But I said that a war with North
Korea is a non-starter anyhow.

That was because, the most important criteria for judging
whether a nation or an individual has a friend would be to
see if it has someone who borrows or invests money. So the
first thing all foreign investors asked when I became
President was: 1) whether there would be a war; 2) whether
North Korea would collapse; and 3) whether the ROK would be
in good terms with the U.S.

So the things I needed to say then was that there's going to
be no war, and that we're in good terms with U.S. And the
clearest proof of that would be the troop dispatch to Iraq.
That's not simply a relationship issue between Roh and the
U.S., but a barometer of whether our alliance was continuing
to function. Some said we need to send 10,000 troops. Some
said 5,000. Some said we must send combatant forces. But some
opposed. And still others raised doubts about the cause of
the war itself. So we eventually decided to send 3,000
non-combatant troops--wasn't this a good deal?

Speaking about "deal," it would be the most effective deal to
realize the goal of earning international confidence in the
stability of the US-ROK alliance with the least cost.

The U.S. raised the issue of relocating its 2nd division to
the rear front. Some Koreans said no, because they were
afraid of eliminating the tripwire. But we decided to
relocate. Now there are a lot of controversies. Some say the
security is destabilized, now that the 2nd division is at the
rear, North Korea may invade, because the U.S. would not
automatically intervene anymore. Others said if the U.S.
attacked North Korea, then North Korea would immediately
retaliate to the 2nd division in the front lines. Now that
the 2nd division is relocated, the US might be preparing for
attack on North Korea. Those were anti-Americans. But I
thought it should be relocated. It's based on principles.

How great are the ROK forces' defense capability? Let me be
frank. It outstripped that of North Korea in 1985 at the
latest--now it's been 20 years since then. And we've been
putting in over ten times the amount of North Korea's defense
budget over those years. I don't think the money was for
nothing. Many former defense ministers raise concerns about
our defense power, but haven't they been negligent if our
defense capability was still weaker than that of North Korea,
with all that money?

So to be candid, comparing our defense capability, the USFK
2nd division can be relocated to the rear line. I would have
much preferred a quieter situation by leaving them as they
were, but the reason I decided to relocate was that we needed
to do away with this psychological reliance on the U.S. The
most important thing in national defense is the will and
confidence of the people that they're keeping their own
country by themselves. It's not like something guaranteed by
clinging to the U.S. It's not something the people of a
self-reliant nation should be doing.

I think the word "tripwire" itself is shameful. Why should we
be using another country's forces for our national security
purposes? If sacrifice is inevitable, then we have to shed
our blood. Only then can the President of this nation talk on
a more equal footing with the U.S. President, when the U.S.
tries to use the USFK as leverage in whatever talks we have
on economy or any other area. But now when the U.S. ever
hints at withdrawing its troops, just about every Korean goes
faint. How can I talk equally with my U.S. counterpart?

Of course we cannot do a perfectly equal diplomacy with the
U.S. It may be senseless to think so, since the U.S. is a
superpower. We should respect and treat the U.S. befitting
its power and global influence. We cannot go against the
world order led by the U.S. But at least we should save our
face as a self-reliant, independent nation. Can't we at least
from time to time push forward with some nerve?

But in a country where the people panic when they talk about
relocating the 2nd division of USFK, how can the President or
Foreign Minister talk with U.S. government officials on equal
footing? We should resolve this psychological reliance. So
that's why I relocated. And when talks about reducing USFK
came out. I said yes. They said let's keep it closed-door. I
said let's leave it open. Then they said let's postpone it.
So we talked about troop cuts a year later. But eventually
talks about troop cuts came out from the U.S. side. We asked
why did you raise this when you suggested postponing the
talks. Then they said we were the ones who asked for
postponement. So there's a lot of arguing, but I haven't
investigated this. Anyway, I think some troop cuts won't

Why must we move the Yongsan base? It's an expensive
property. It would cost approximately 5.5 trillion won for
base relocation. Although there may be some pluses and
minuses, it would be much more expensive when you try to buy
that real estate with money. If it were not the USFK and a
property of an individual, then the government would make
assessment and pay the money and buy the land. So why is USFK
located there, blocking the subway route, roads, and any
cultural or commercial facilities for Korean citizens? Why
can't we do it? Because we had no money. Former presidents
Kim Young-sam and Noh Tae-woo reached an agreement, but the
government didn't have the money. But now that the economic
crisis is gone, and we can pay the money over a 10-year term,
now we should purchase the land.

That makes the situation look simple, but it makes such a
noise in Pyongtaek, and people will ask why is the Roh
government so noisy. But we should be doing what needs to be

It is true that this (USFK base) undermines our symbol of a
self-reliant nation. Even if we're allies, it hurts to have
foreign forces at the center of our capital city,
particularly on the spot where the forces from Qing dynasty
had been stationed in the past. Don't you think the
"independence gate" that our ancestors constructed is
historically symbolic? The base relocation must also be seen
from the same perspective. Humans are historical animals.
Yongsan base and OPCON transfer--the cause is for

The same thing. Don't we have the capability to conduct
operational control? What have the ROK forces done so far?
They all served in the military, I served in the military,
trained in the reserved force, paid taxes. But those on the
higher ranks--what did they do? Did they just enjoy the title
of Defense Minister and JCS Chairman, without even having
their own military get ready for their own OPCON? Is that why
they scramble for issuing statements opposing OPCON transfer?
Isn't that a kind of delinquency? Shame on them.

I believe the ROK forces will do fine. Korea's strong in its
economy, culture, film industry, cell phones, automobiles,
shipbuilding, everything. Why not OPCON?

We should always maintain readiness for a contingency
situation, concerning North Korea and concerning China. China
will do the same. And when we have our own OPCON, it will
make difference in our dealing with North Korea and China
diplomatically, concerning NE Asia security issues.

It doesn't make sense for a country without its own OPCON to
discuss anything--whether to bomb civilian facilities, for
instance--with China or North Korea. This is something very
important in terms of diplomatic interest.

I don't think those opponents to OPCON transfer are ignorant
of this important aspect. Then again, it puzzles me to think
why they would have stayed mum on OPCON so far, if they
already knew all this. It's like opposing whatever Roh does
would be justice. They're simply trying to shake me. They
consider me to have suddenly appeared on stage out of
nowhere. That's the way it is.

Whether we agree to OPCON or not, this is a diplomatic issue.
In our relationship with China, we'll be able to say to China
that: we'll be cautious on any hostile action in NE Asia,
even when there is the USFK; we've agreed so on OPCON;
nothing that the Korean public opposes will not happen, and
things that the Korean public agree would take place. Isn't
this the best? Even if we set everything now, you never know
what will happen in the future. So the best thing at this
point would be to take action on whatever the Korean public
agrees to, and not to do whatever the public opposes.

How can we set everything now? I talked with President Bush
on this issue a lot. Everything's taken care of. There is
this philosophy underlying the National Defense Reform. It
was talked about during the Noh Tae-woo, Kim Young-sam, and
Kim Dae-jung administrations, but the bill has just now
passed the national Assembly. But implementation is not
taking place. Who would like a reform? It's actually
self-restructuring, isn't it? The President can't do it
alone. Eventually, the Ministry of national Defense, the
military, shaped the reform plan and announced it to the

Defense Reform 2020--it doesn't need more money, in
particular. The troops are cut to 500,000--because it needs
to be cut and can be cut. Some raise the issue of cutting
personnel and expanding weaponry. Of course if we are to
fight only with North Korea, it'll be good to have more
troops, since there may be a lot of ground battles. But if we
think of our security from a more diverse perspective, the
number of troops wouldn't do it. Rather, we should cut budget
on feeding, clothing, housing people, and rather invest in
developing an advanced, well-performing weapons.

Low birth rates are an issue these days. Rather than keeping
them several years in the military, we should let them work,
get married, and have kids early on.

We need to change the whole system of our society into one
that encourages getting married early and getting employed
early. Otherwise, the economy would stall. We're now on the
planning stage for the policy shift.

What do you think are the things in the military that became
worse since I became President? Reporters don't have much to
write about these days concerning the military, because there
is nothing going poorly--whether it's a personnel
appointment, or a 1.4 trillion won-worth procurement project
where we selected the contracting party, without any rumors
about corruption or shady transactions.

There were a lot of suicide incidents, shooting accidents. We
should work on that expeditiously. But culture is not
something that is fixed overnight.

Currently, dramatic changes are happening on the practices
concerning personnel, procurement, and budget transparency.
The army life is fast changing too. We're currently doing
construction or repair works on their barracks through
private sector investment. And we are also trying to work on
helping retired officers get jobs, in order to restructure
the military.

So we're now doing our best. But we postponed appointing a
civilian as a Defense Minister, since it would be too much at
this time.

I think my pace of social reform is also too fast for some.
People tell me they're dizzy because of that. So I settled
with postponing the civilianization of the Ministry of
National Defense--which means the appointment of a civilian
as Defense Minister.

Since we're at a critical point to reform the military, I
thought it would be good for the President to trust the
military itself and let them conduct their reform on their
own. That is why I decided to postpone civilianization of the
Ministry of National Defense and put military reform first.

I'm positive it'll go well. Security will go well.

There are a lot of talks about Roh doing good and bad, but
please help me by telling others that Roh seems to be doing
at least what he needs to do as a President, focused on doing
the best thing for the nation based on principles, and now
that we've elected him already, let's give him a chance to
take care of defense, foreign affairs, security, and
unification. Let him take care of it...he's not an outright
fool. He knows what to take care of and what to calculate.
Let him do his work...Please.