The main hall of the National Assembly Wednesday was surrounded by aides of main opposition Democratic Party lawmakers and some 100 people from media groups. Shortly after National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o invoked his authority to put media reform bills to a vote, members of the National Union of Media Workers and broadcast network union leaders broke into the main hall through windows. They blocked lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party and the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party from entering the hall.
They also intruded into a public gallery, shouted slogans such as oppose unilateral votes and dissolve the Grand National Party, and swore at ruling party lawmakers. Throwing the Assembly into chaos and blocking parliamentary votes through violence are tantamount to desecration of parliament and a threat to constitutional rule. This is the second time that outside forces have broken into parliament since the establishment of the National Assembly. In October 1960, college students occupied parliament to demand a law punishing those who derailed democracy. The government must uphold the dignity of parliament by prosecuting those who broke into the Assembly.
The media union is an affiliate of the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions launched in November 2000. It has as members some 120 newspapers, broadcasters and publishers such as the networks MBC and SBS, the dailies Kyunghyang Shinmun and Hankyoreh, and the Internet news site OhmyNews. The unions first leader was former MBC president and incumbent proportional representative Choi Moon-soon.
The union cannot represent the media industry, however, because it does not include the countrys three major dailies -- The Dong-A Ilbo, The Chosun Ilbo and The JoongAng Ilbo -- and the nations largest broadcaster KBS.
In the 2002 presidential election, the union urged its members to oppose presidential candidates who presented anti-nationalistic and unification campaign pledges. It also banded together with the labor confederation and the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers` Union in every left-leaning anti-government struggle, such as a general strike protesting the free trade agreement with the United States, candlelight vigils against the resumption of U.S. beef imports, and a protest to help staff of the MBC TV news magazine PD Notebook, a program which exaggerated and distorted the risks of the human version of mad cow disease last year.
The union also provoked controversy in October 2006 by issuing a pro-North Korea commentary shortly after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test. The commentary blamed the United States as most responsible for the test. In addition, the union supported policies suppressing the media pushed for by the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration under the guise of media reform. The ultra-leftist organization defamed the media by wreaking havoc on parliament.
Worse, certain lawmakers undermined the authority of parliament yesterday by attempting to manipulate the vote on media reform bills. When ruling party lawmakers left their seats after voting yes, opposition counterparts reportedly reversed or nullified the votes by pushing the no or cancel buttons. Certain ruling party lawmakers are also said to have pushed the yes button at opposition lawmakers seats. The National Assembly must release the names of those who committed such childish and egregious acts.