Go to contents

[Editorial] An Insult to the Constitution

Posted July. 17, 2009 07:37,   


More than half of Korean youths do not know what Constitution Day is. Commissioned by the Justice Ministry, professor Park Seong-hyeok of social studies at Seoul National University surveyed of 1,762 middle and high school students from eight schools July 8-10. He found 39.3 percent of students knew that the day "honors the declaration of the legislation of the Constitution.”

Though the Constitution, which was declared on July 17, 1948, has seen nine revisions, its core values of a free democracy, market economy, rule of law, and a legal definition of territory have been cherished. Based on this constitutional foundation, Korea has become an exemplary country achieving both democracy and prosperity among the estimated 140 countries that have gained independence since the Second World War.

Just they fail to recognize the value of air, Koreans might not recognize the value of the Constitution. If the people’s will to defend the Constitution in the face of destructive challenges from home and abroad weakens, constitution rule could come under threat. The previous Roh Moo-hyun administration canceled Constitution Day as a national holiday. Constitutional rule was also threatened as the president ignored the Constitution, got a warning from the National Election Committee, and faced an impeachment attempt by the National Assembly. The Kim Dae-jung administration weakened the spirit of the Constitution, which calls for unification based on free democracy, as it mixed the federal unification plan proposed by North Korea and one from South Korea.

Last year, violent protestors swept through Seoul streets for almost three months, ridiculing Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution saying, "The Republic of Korea is a democratic republic." Both the ruling and opposition parties are waging a sit-in over dealing with bills even on the morning of Constitution Day, forgetting the spirit of parliamentary democracy comprising conversation, negotiation and rule by the majority. What a shame!

Three cases that the Constitutional Court struck down in 2007 have lost their legal effects, as the related laws were not revised until Dec. 31 last year. Neglect of duty by lawmakers has become commonplace. The anti-constitutional behavior of parliament, political parties and civic groups could give a bad impression to youths that the Constitution is only in textbooks. On the morning of this Constitution Day, it is deplorable that taxes are going to lawmakers who ignore the spirit and process of parliamentary democracy as defined in the Constitution.