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[Opinion] Namro-dang

Posted March. 21, 2003 22:24,   


The South Chosun Labor Party, also called Namro-dang, was a big part of the history at the time of independence. The party led by Park Heon-young is the main driving force of leftist movement in the South at that time. Members of Namro-dang demanded withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korea opposing the surrogate rule by U.S. military. They were also against setting up a government only in the south. When the Lee Seung-man government was launched, they chose to hide in deep mountains and became `Ppalchin-san (meaning the red mountain)`.

The armed campaigns they waged before and after the Korean War still remains a sad part of Korean history. Many innocent people were killed and animosity and hatred arose between the two ideologies, which still runs deep in Korea today. Among leading members of Namro-dang were Park Heon-young, Lee Seung-yeop, Cho Il-myung, Im Hwa, Chung Tae-shik, Lee Gang-guk and Lee Hyeon-sang. Although they escaped the carnage by the south and went to Pyongyang, they were mostly shot to death by Kim Il-sung army in the end. A book depicting the life and death of Namro-dang, `Nambu-gun,` was very popular in a movie as well.

Lawmaker Im In-bae from the Grand National Party recently compared Minister of Culture Lee Chang-dong to `a member of Namro-dang,` sparking controversy. While he denouncing Minister Lee`s decision to limit press access as infringement into the right to know, he said, ˝Watching Minister Lee these days, it reminds me of Namro-dang members at the time of the Korean War, soft-speaking people who later ran wild.˝ With the nation still divided between the south and the north, `Namro-dang` is still considered an anonym to communists. He said `it reminds,` still he could have said what he felt differently.

The way a political leader says and behaves must carry weight and discretion. Although what he says is not who he is, there have been a lot of politicians who made it or broke it with their words. What they say often shows how civilized and cultured people are. And we have seen the opposition lawmaker making `Namro-dang` remarks, Minister Lee saying ˝Let them sift through a garbage can for scoop˝ and presidential aide Chung Chan-yong comparing the fate of first-level high-ranking government officials to Lotto game. We have never seen political leaders wild-speaking like this before.

Song Yong-eon, Editorial Writer, youngeon@donga.com