(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on May 20)

A recent memoir by former President Moon Jae-in is stirring controversy again. The book titled "From the Periphery to the Center," containing his recollections and behind-the-scenes stories about his diplomatic and security policy, is packed with self-rationalization and self-praise of his low-profile approach to North Korea's denuclearization, which ended in failure. The part that seems to put the blame on the United States could prompt friction in the decades-long alliance if former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House in November. In the 655-page memoir, Moon extolled his dedication to holding a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un while glorifying his role as a mediator between Kim and Trump to stage their summits twice. But the two U.S.-North summits over the denuclearization ended without any substance. That's why Moon has been criticized for just helping Pyongyang earn the time needed to develop its nuclear weapons. The memoir does not show any self-reflection or remorse abo ut the public criticism that Moon delivered his overconfidence in Kim's determination to denuclearize to Washington without tangible evidence. Nevertheless, the president stressed that Kim had "no intention to use nuclear weapons." We cannot but wonder if Moon still believes what Kim told him in the summit at Panmunjom. The book also suggests that Moon took excessive action just to stage the U.S.-North summit. For instance, Moon sent the message to Washington that the United States could make an end-of-war declaration with the North without the South's participation just to stage the first U.S.-North summit in Singapore in June 2018. If that's true, South Korea must step aside in the critical discussion on its own fate. Former President Moon seemed to shift the responsibility for the Hanoi "no deal" in 2019 to Trump and his negotiation team. Moon said they couldn't understand the North's proposals properly. But Morgan Ortagus, a former spokesperson in the Trump administration, testified in a policy review b y the America First Policy Institute that the Trump administration intentionally excluded Moon from the Singapore summit because he wanted to make more concessions than needed at that time. More baffling is Moon's claim that the UN Security Council's sanctions on North Korea frequently blocked inter-Korean relations from advancing further. The claim translates into his outright discontent over the international community's effort to deter the North from developing nuclear weapons. Such a mindset is very difficult to comprehend. Before leaving the Blue House two years ago, Moon said he wanted to be forgotten after retirement. However, given his weight as a former president, he should act more prudently and discreetly than before. Source: Yonhap News Agency