Thursday, January 25, 2007, 1/25/2007 11:55:00 AM

Clumsy Handling of a Different Kind of "Trade Secrets"

By Todd
According to the online version of the South Korean Chosunilbo Daily, South Korea's international trade negotiators came under fire Monday after a confidential document relating to free trade talks with the United States was leaked to Korean news outlets last week. The classified document disappeared from an open session at the National Assembly Jan. 13. Copies of the document were distributed to members of a special Assembly free trade agreement (FTA) committee, even to absent ones.

Once the document was found missing, the news outlet reported that the government failed to take any action beyond asking Lee's office if he had the copy. Park Young-sun, a lawmaker with the ruling U-ri Party said, "The classified documents had already been distributed during an open session, meaning they were available to anyone who intended to see them." Lawmaker Sim Sang-jeung said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had neglected to properly protect the document, having only labeled the report confidential in pencil. "How can they treat a confidential document so carelessly?" he asked.

This report offers a different take on the loss of "trade secrets" but goes to show that even information as secret as international trade negotiation status reports are sometimes handled clumsily and, as such, loses their confidential properties.

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