In the News – Activist-turned-lawmaker under fire for allegedly calling N.K. defectors ‘traitors’

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In the News – Activist-turned-lawmaker under fire for allegedly calling N.K. defectors ‘traitors’

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) — A ruling party lawmaker demanded Monday that one of South Korea’s best-known former pro-unification activists and now an opposition lawmaker offer a sincere apology again for insulting him and North Korean defectors as “traitors.”

Rep. Lim Su-kyung of the main opposition Democratic United Party hurled the insult and other abusive remarks during an impromptu meeting with a defector-turned-college student at a bar on Friday, according to a Facebook posting by the student, Baek Yo-sep.

Lim, a former pro-North Korea student activist, became widely known after making an unauthorized trip to the communist nation in 1989 and meeting with then leader Kim Il-sung, the North’s founder and grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

Pyongyang called her the “flower of unification” at the time.

She entered parliament as a proportional candidate of the DUP in April’s general elections.

Rep. Lim Su-kyung of the main opposition Democratic United Party. (Yonhap)

Baek quoted Lim as denouncing North Korean defectors as traitors and having “no roots.” She also vilified Rep. Ha Tae-kyung of the ruling Saenuri Party, who had once worked with Lim in the 1980s, as a traitor for his conversion to an anti-Pyongyang activist, Baek said.

Lim was also quoted as saying she will “kill the traitor (Ha) with my hands.”

Baek said Lim became abruptly upset following a joke he cracked to her after some Lim aides had Baek’s photos taken with Lim deleted from his phone. After Lim denied she ordered the deletion, Baek said he joked that in North Korea, doing something at will without instruction from the supreme leader carries a “death by shooting” punishment.

Baek said Lim denounced him for working with Ha to improve the North’s human rights situation.

As the traitor remarks drew strong criticism, Lim offered an apology Sunday, claiming in a statement that she was referring to only Ha as a traitor for joining the conservative ruling party, and that she never meant to describe defectors as such.

On Monday, Ha accused Lim of lying and demanded she sincerely apologize again.

“Rep. Lim holds hostility toward North Korean defectors and thinks of defectors as traitors,” Ha said. “But she said in the statement that she never called North Korean defectors traitors, but she said I am a traitor just because I joined the Saenuri Party, not because I engaged in a human rights movement helping defectors.”

But the acting chief of Lim’s party said he trusts the sincerity of her statement of apology.

“As we trust Rep. Lim’s heartfelt apology, repentance and clarification, there is no measure the party plans to take,” said Rep. Park Jie-won, the interim head of the DUP. “Rep. Lim holds respect for North Korean defectors and has an attitude of working for them.”

Park said, however, the party will instruct lawmakers to be more careful about what they say.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Ruling party considering motion to oust pro-N.K. lawmakers-elect from parliament

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In the News – Ruling party considering motion to oust pro-N.K. lawmakers-elect from parliament

SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s ruling party is considering a motion to strip two opposition lawmakers-elect of their parliamentary seats amid conservatives’ growing concern their alleged pro-North Korea stances could pose a threat to national security.

The two, Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), have been under a firestorm of criticism for refusing to give up their parliamentary seats despite findings the party’s primary voting to select proportional candidates was seriously rigged.

Rep. Shim Jae-chul (L) of the ruling Saenuri Party speaks during the party’s leadership meeting on May 24, 2012. (Yonhap)

Fueling conservative concern about them were revelations that they are key members of the party’s largest faction comprised mainly of former student activists who had followed and acted under North Korea’s former ruling ideology of “juche” or “self-reliance.”

Lee actually was arrested and convicted in the early 2000s of involvement in an underground party linked to Pyongyang, and concerns from conservatives are that their entry into parliament would allow them wide access to sensitive information on national security. Kim was also formerly convicted on charges of violating the anti-communist National Security Law.

These concerns have prompted talk of the ruling party pushing to oust them from parliament. Continue reading

In the News – N. Korea suspected of involvement in China’s arrest of S. Korean activists

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In the News – N. Korea suspected of involvement in China’s arrest of S. Korean activists

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) — An activist-turned-lawmaker-elect said Friday he suspects North Korea is deeply involved in the arrest of South Korean activists held in China on charges thought to be related to their anti-Pyongyang campaign.

Four activists were arrested in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on March 29. One of the detained is Kim Young-hwan, a senior researcher for the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, a Seoul-based civic group for North Korean defectors.

Ha Tae-kyung (Yonhap file photo)

Officials in Seoul said China has offered few details about the arrests, only saying the four are suspected of endangering China’s national security, a serious charge that carries heavy punishment. Further specifics will be available after an investigation is complete, China has said.

It is believed the detentions are related to the activists’ efforts to help North Korea defectors hiding in China, improve the North’s human rights conditions and other activities Pyongyang considers an affront to its totalitarian regime.

On Friday, Ha Tae-kyung, a leading anti-North Korea activist who was elected in last month’s general elections, said Kim has previously been considered pro-China and Beijing’s treatment of him and his colleagues as “anti-state” figures suggests there has been “outside pressure.”

Original article can be found here
“It is suspected that North Korea, while keeping a close watch over Kim’s activity, asked Chinese authorities for his arrest after confirming he had entered China,” Ha said in a radio interview.

Ha said the North is also believed to be involved in the questioning of the activists by relaying questions it wants answered to Chinese interrogators.

Kim, 49, is a former South Korean proponent of North Korea’s guiding “juche” philosophy of self-reliance. He met with the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung in 1991 after sneaking into the North via a North Korean submersible.

However, Kim Young-hwan later renounced his pro-North Korean ideology and became active in projects to raise awareness about the dismal human rights record in North Korea.