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[Opinion] For Whom Is All This Noise for Changing the Constitution?

[Opinion] For Whom Is All This Noise for Changing the Constitution?

Posted January. 14, 2002 09:34,   


The Constitution is a document that embodies the historical progress of a nation and a people. The gaze of the Constitution is very gaze of the people. The Constitution is a mirror that endlessly reflects the trials and errors of history.

A Constitutional government must fight relentlessly to increase the clarity of the people`s vision for creating a just society.

"The Republic of Korea is a democratic republic. The people are the sovereign of Korea and all power comes from the people." This is the solemn words of article 1 in our Constitutional Law. It is the visage and heart of our Constitution that was written down in 1948 with the founding of the First Republic and that has endured through nine revisions. A `Democratic Republic` means, as the words themselves indicate, a political system where the people are the nation`s sovereign.

`The X Republic`. The reason why people have put a number before a democratic republic has to do with the historical storms that modern Korean history has weathered, as one foreign scholar said. Every time the head honcho of one Republic changed, the Constitution suffered yet another revision. The poet Hwang Ji-Woo compared this fate of the Constitution to "the life of one poor woman who had been violated nine times by a sexual predator." Strictly speaking, there is only one republic for South Korea under the Constitution. The dictators who robbed the people`s power and the politicians who deceived the nation have violated the Constitutional Law out of their selfish interests. Yet, they announced a `new era` and played this number game.

According to legal scholar Park Hong-Kyu`s book titled, `They Killed the Constitution` the half century of our Constitution has been one of misfortune as these `constitutional murderers` have trampled all over it.

The New Year has just begun. Yet, one part of the government has already begun arguing over revising the Constitution. Is the tenth `sexual predator` about to take the stage? Will another `constitutional murderer` be added to the blacklist?

The Constitution is not something that you change on a whim. The Constitution upholds human dignity, spiritual values like freedom and equality, and is a sublime document that actualizes these principles. It is different from new laws that is ever changing.

Of course, Constitutional Law can change. However, changing the Constitution marks a historical turning point and only the people can grant permission to create such changes.

The constitution of a democratic republic is usually comprised of articles on fundamental human rights and structure of power. The two are connected by jurisdiction and type, end and means. How does someone become the most powerful leader, how long can he hold that position, and other regulations on government structure cannot, by themselves, guarantee justice. The laws of the constitution are the means for protecting fundamental human freedoms and rights, and founding a society where people can live well. The starting point, therefore, of every discussion about changing the constitution must be the expression of the people`s will to change it because it has failed to protect adequately these freedoms and the conditions are no longer tolerable.

The former nine revisions have all centered on changing government structures such as the executive branch, cabinet system, and the length of presidential terms. Furthermore, all of these revisions were carried out under the auspices of those who sought sovereign power or total control of the government without any regard for the people`s will. These claims to power indicates that the President is not a head servant of the people but rather a tyrant ruling over the people.

Let us say, forgoing a hundred counter reasons, simply for the sake of argument that there is an actual problem with the government structure. Is this really that big of a problem as to call for politicians rolling up their sleeves when we do not have enough time to find a way to survive the storms of globalization even if we spent all of it on this problem alone? Is changing the title of the president to `His Majesty` or `His Majesty Prime Minister` really so important as to call for a new system every four years, and will that give us a way to move forward through the survival-of-the-fittest order of the world?

The year 2002 is an incomparably valuable year for us. This year, all of us have the responsibility to make our molested Constitution the people`s scripture both in name and in reality. The person who seeks to become the chief servant of the people will humbly bow before the Constitution and engrave in his heart, "The Republic of Korea is a democratic republic."