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Scholars argue for constitutional amendment at a symposium

Scholars argue for constitutional amendment at a symposium

Posted December. 09, 2017 07:05,   

Updated December. 09, 2017 08:12


“Amendment should be made to the Constitution because people’s demand for change demonstrated through candlelight rallies cannot be realized within the existing constitutional law,” said Im Hyug-baeg, honorary professor at Korea University, at the “Yun Posun Memorial Symposium” held at the National Assembly by Yun Posun Democracy Research Institute on Friday with the theme of “Lessons from the 1960 Constitutional Amendment and Today’s Challenges.”

“The candlelight revolution showed us that we need to put new wine not into old bottles, but new bottles,” said professor Im. Former President Yun Po-sun was elected as president in the Second Republic, which operated under a parliamentary system, after the third amendment was made to the Constitution following a student-led, pro-democracy uprising in 1960.

Since his inauguration, President Moon Jae-in has stressed the importance of decentralization. “A decentralized power structure cannot flourish under the political system dominated by simple majoritarianism,” Professor Im said. “Thus, a power structure in an amended Constitution should take the form of a combination of the parliamentary system and the presidential system.” An election system should be revamped altogether, he said, to introduce a mixed-member proportional representation system by region and a presidential runoff election.

Seo hee-kyung, a researcher at the Institute of Korean Political Studies at Seoul National University and one of the speakers at the symposium, gave a presentation about the constitutional amendment made to establish the parliamentary system in the 1960s. “The amendment to the Constitution, which ushered in the Second Republic, stated ‘the restoration of political freedom’ as one of its basic goals,” said Seo. “However, the country was unsuccessful in achieving political stability and striking a proper balance during the Second Republic, letting a paradox in which freedom destroyed freedom set in.”

Hoon-Sang Park tigermask@donga.com