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A Lawmaker of Principal

Posted April. 30, 2010 05:57,   


Quite a few figures in the Lee Myung-bak administration and the ruling Grand National Party have an attitude of “self-preservation.” The goals of moderate integration and practical reform are meaningful, but there are limits to integration and communication. It is impossible to embrace those who describe South Korea as a nation that should not have been created while mentioning democracy and progress, yet defend the tyranny of North Korea, which is starving its people to death. Political leaders have shunned face-to-face confrontation with such undesirable figures.

Ruling party lawmaker Cho Jeon-hyeok is considered one of the more reliable politicians and someone who has not forgotten his principals. A professor-turned-politician, Cho criticized the impact of education supported by the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union, students and society while working for conservative civic organizations under the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration. After joining parliament, Cho was even accused of leaking the results of the college entrance exam by the union but was cleared in February this year. He is considered a thorn in the side of the union.

This month, Cho posted the identities of union members on his homepage www.educho.com, an act that the union says is illegal. His action defied a ruling by the Seoul Southern District Court in favor of a union injunction that the union members’ identities remain private. The court ruled that Cho must pay the union 30 million won (26,908 U.S. dollars) per day in damages unless he removes the list, fueling a dispute. The lawmaker, however, has filed a petition with the Constitutional Court, saying, “A civil court has no jurisdiction over a lawmaker’s right to make an announcement. Accordingly, the court has no right to accept the educational union’s request for an injunction.” He added, “If I pay 30 million won per day, my assets will disappear in a few days. But if I take down the list, I will have effectively denied my status as a politician and lawmaker.”

The surge in hits on Cho’s Web site after he posted the list forced the temporary shutdown of his homepage. This means lots of parents are interested in whether the teachers of their children belong to the union. The Constitutional Court will decide if the Seoul court has the right to prevent a lawmaker from releasing the list. No matter what the verdict is, however, Cho has shown outstanding confidence and courage in fighting the educational union, which seeks to teach young students an outdated and meaningless spirit of resistance.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-hwal (shkwon@donga.com)