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Gov’t risks violating constitution to appease N. Korea

Gov’t risks violating constitution to appease N. Korea

Posted December. 04, 2020 07:42,   

Updated December. 04, 2020 07:42


The Democratic Party of Korea passed the amendment to the act on improving inter-Korean relations alone in the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee. Under the new law, sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets and using megaphones will be sentenced to fines of 30 million won or three years in prison. The ruling party’s plan is to assign the bill to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and then pass it in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The revised law is highly likely to breach the Constitution as it infringes on the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Following the passage, the Ministry of Unification said the new law would improve public safety and relations between the North and the South and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. While the government may place a temporary ban on the distribution of leaflets for the sake of public safety, it should not be allowed to prohibit it completely by penalizing it.

The bill has been mocked as the “Kim Yo Jong Act” because it was written after North Korea complained about North Korean defectors flying anti-Pyongyang leaflets. North Korea threatened to enact a law to stop the “trashy clowns” before it cut off all the communication channels with Seoul and blew up a liaison office. The new ban, which will only give North Korea a sense of triumph, will set a wrong precedent for future inter-Korean relations. It may challenge the government over criticism against it by the South Korean media and civic groups.

Efforts to promote human rights in North Korea should continue, which entails informing North Korean citizens of the autocratic regime and its systems. To be sure, more modern tools should be used as apposed to leaflets and megaphones, which can increase military tensions. However, violating freedom of speech, which is a basic human right, by enacting a new law would be a step back for democracy and human rights. The North kills a South Korean citizen and blames the South for it. Efforts to appease Pyongyang will only distort the bilateral relations more than they already are.