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Freedom of Expression?

Posted June. 18, 2010 14:01,   


Yoon Cheong-ja, 67, who lost her son, 1st Sgt. Min Pyeong-gi, in the sinking of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan, said in a recent interview, "Politicians must raise one voice on national security issues. They should not oppose for the sake of opposition…" She asked the leader of the progressive Democratic Labor Party, Kang Ki-gap, "Why did they die?" at the funeral for the crewmen killed in the sinking. Yoon donated 100 million won (82,500 U.S. dollars) she received from the people for national security, saying, "I want this money to be spent to make more rifles to resolve my son’s grudge and prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy."

Though she lives in a rural village, Yoon is firm in her devotion to national security. Considering the 46 crew members killed in the incident, the attitudes of the liberal civic group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and certain opposition politicians are regrettable. They should at least refrain from saying things that hurt the bereaved families of the Cheonan victims.

The chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, Chung Sye-kyun, said the civic`s group sending of a letter on suspicions over the Cheonan incident to the U.N. Security Council constitutes freedom of expression. He told a meeting of senior party members, "Civic gropus are supposed to conduct critical activities." Chung then blasted the government by saying, “Excessive responses to the incident and calling it an act undermining national identity is narrow-minded and crude.” This comment was a response to the prosecution, which began investigating whether the civic group’s act abetted the enemy.

Democratic Party lawmaker Choi Moon-soon told a radio interview Wednesday that the probability of the Cheonan being sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack is like that of sinking five straight holes-in-one, implying he does not believe the North probably sank the Cheonan. “(The investigation results) mean (North Korea) shot the Cheonan through a periscope and split the ship in two. It was late at night and there was sea fog and high waves. It’s unconvincing,” he said. The lawmaker seems totally ignorant of technological advances in the military, however. Without clear evidence, Choi cited fatigue destruction as the most probable cause of the sinking followed by being stranded, a mine and a torpedo, ignoring the scientific conclusion reached by top experts from home and abroad.

Based on the suspicion it raised in the letter to the U.N. Security Council, the civic group told the families of the Cheonan victims, “We wrote the letter based on documents and materials containing suspicions over the sinking by the people, media and experts.” The letter’s content is nothing less than a patchwork of opinions that always doubt what the government says. Considering Yoon and the loss of her son, the act of siding with the North, the culprit behind the Cheonan sinking, cannot be tolerated as freedom of expression.