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[Op-Ed] Progressive Leader`s Behavior

Posted January. 15, 2010 08:09,   


Kang Ki-kap, leader of the progressive Democratic Labor Party, held a news conference in front of the National Assembly, saying, “The Democratic Labor Party represents the neglected class of the people. Yet many Koreans criticize the party for being aggressive, violent and militant. But, we’ll completely reform the language the party has used and activities it has engaged in.” Kang had a gentle smile on his long mustached face and wore hanbok, the traditional Korean attire. At the news conference, it was hard to imagine what he did at parliament a year ago.

A year ago, security guards of the National Assembly broke up party members who staged a sit-in protest in front of the main conference room. After watching the scene, a furious Kang rushed toward the office of Park Kye-dong, chief of the parliamentary secretariat. Kang began throwing telephones, pieces of scratch paper, and pen holders on Park’s desk, then jumped on the table, kicked teacups, and leapt twice. After leaving the office, Kang headed to the office of National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o and pounded on the door, while asking Kim to come out. Many joked that Kang used his hanbok as a combat uniform.

Last month, Kang was indicted for obstruction of government duties and prosecutors demanded 18 months in prison. The Seoul Southern District Court, however, found Kang not guilty yesterday. Judge Lee Dong-yeon said, “Lawmakers can enter the office of the National Assembly secretariat chief. In addition, Kang as the chairman of a political party visited the office to officially protest an unlawful decision. Accordingly, Kang did not interfere with the execution of government duties.” On the National Assembly speaker’s decision to invoke his right to maintain order at parliament, the court said, “The decision was unlawful since it had nothing to do with the regular parliamentary session.” Considering common sense and legal sentiment of the Korean public, the ruling is simply incomprehensible.

Kang entered the office of the National Assembly secretariat chief and used violence. If a citizen did the same at a police station, he or she would face prosecution. The National Assembly represents Korea’s democracy. Accordingly, violence at the National Assembly should be harshly dealt with. The ruling will also undergo review at a second trial or by the Supreme Court. Even if Kang is acquitted, the fact that he seriously damaged the dignity of lawmakers will not change. It will be interesting to see if Kang keeps his promise made at the news conference.

Editorial Writer Lee Jin-nyong (jinnyong@donga.com)