Go to contents

Regional Gov`ts and Nat`l Identity

Posted July. 03, 2010 15:24,   


The situation surrounding Korean society makes one wonder if the constitutional value and identity of the Republic of Korea are being properly upheld. The entire nation seems to be moving towards excessive liberalism and the principle of noninterference. The fundamental principle of democracy is to assure the freedom and rights of citizens as much as possible, but unrestricted freedom and rights can infringe on the freedom and rights of other people and place national identity on shaky ground.

The National Assembly has raised doubt over the country`s identity vis-a-vis national security when it made a parliamentary resolution against North Korea following the sinking of the Cheonan as a “half-way revolution” by the ruling party. The move is in stark contrast to that of the U.S. Congress, which approved a near-unanimous resolution against North Korea. Members of both the House and Senate overcame partisan conflict and ideological orientation to do so. Korean legislators should act as parliamentarians of the Republic of Korea at least when it comes to national security, an issue which tests the very existence of this nation and its people irrespective of ideological orientation.

Certain autonomous governments in the country are crossing the line as if independent states. Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil said that unless the central government lifts its ban on inter-Korean exchanges, he will seek them independently by mobilizing his city’s budget. The governors of South Chungcheong Province (Ahn Hee-jung) and South Gyeongsang Province (Kim Doo-kwan), who were elected as unified members of opposition parties, also say they will stop projects to restore the Geum and Nakdong rivers. These autonomous governments have formed “regional coalition governments” with members of the progressive Democratic Labor Party, the new People’s Participatory Party, the minor Creative Korea Party, and left-leaning civic groups as well as the main opposition Democratic Party. By behaving as if they enjoy the privilege of extraterritoriality, these regional governments are effectively destroying national identity.

Another matter being tested is nighttime protest rallies, which were allowed after the National Assembly failed to enact a law on assemblies and demonstrations by the end of last month. Such rallies had been previously banned because conflict between protestors and police could easily erupt at night, raising the possibility of violence and interruption of peaceful living, including a good night’s sleep. A leader of the Korea Federation of Environmental Movement blasted the act on assembly and demonstration, however, saying, “God damn the assembly and demonstration act,” when staging a nighttime rally against the four-river restoration project in central Seoul Thursday, the first day of the act’s withdrawal. This act is designed to uphold harmony with “safety and order for public interests (Article 1)." Protesters may express the opinions of a group but if they seek to use force to pressure others, basic societal order cannot be maintained.

The Cheonan sinking has also demonstrated how deeply pro-North Korea groups have taken root in South Korean society. The government should not be negligent about its obligation to protect national identity. The public also must remain vigilant and proactively join the effort to protect national identity.