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 – N. Korea denounces S. Korea’s attempt to expel pro-N.K. lawmakers

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In the News – N. Korea denounces S. Korea’s attempt to expel pro-N.K. lawmakers

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) — North Korea has condemned South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party for seeking to strip two alleged pro-North Korean lawmakers of their parliamentary seats.

“The madcap smear campaign … is nothing but a ‘witch hunt’ of modern version and sordid fascist politically-motivated terrorism,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in an English-language statement carried late Thursday by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The strongly worded statement came as calls grow in South Korea to expel Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon, two lawmakers of the left-wing minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP), from the National Assembly.

Rep. Kim Jae-yeon (L) walks past an anti-North Korea activist near the National Assembly on May 30, 2012. (Yonhap)

The public pressure was caused by widespread concern the lawmakers’ alleged pro-North Korea beliefs could pose a threat to national security, considering their track record.

Both lawmakers were convicted of engaging in pro-North Korean activities in the past and allegedly espoused North Korea’s guiding “juche” philosophy of self-reliance.

The two were also accused of being involved in UPP’s alleged rigged primary designed to select proportional representation candidates for the April parliamentary election.

Lee and Kim have so far refused to quit their seats, prompting the Saenuri Party to propose a joint motion with the main opposition Democratic United Party to strip them of their seats.

An ouster requires two-thirds approval from the 300-member National Assembly and the two main parties have 277 seats combined.

The North’s propaganda outlet also claimed the South Korean conservative party was resorting to intrigues to annihilate progressive forces and “create a situation favorable for the conservative forces’ stay in power before the ‘presidential election.'”

Park Geun-hye, former interim leader of the Saenuri Party and daughter of late President Park Chung-hee, has been leading opinion polls for the December presidential election. President Lee Myung-bak of the ruling party is set to end his single five-year term in February 2013 and is barred by law from seeking re-election.

“It is none other than such pro-U.S. lackeys, anti-reunification confrontation maniacs, fascists and chief culprits of scandals as the group of the ‘Saenuri Party’ that should be eliminated from” the National Assembly, the North’s statement said.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

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In the News – Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak on Monday urged “pro-North Korea” groups in South Korea to wake up to reality and stop blindly accepting nonsense assertions Pyongyang makes, calling their unconditional following of the communist regime “problematic.”

It was the first time Lee, who has tried to avoid ideological remarks, has openly criticized those sympathetic to North Korea by using the word, “jongbuk,” which means “blindly following the North.” Pro-Pyongyang followers are criticized as jongbuk forces in South Korea.

Lee made the criticism in his biweekly radio address, saying North Korea has made “wild assertions” denying its involvement in attacks on South Korea, including a 1983 terrorist bombing targeted at the then South Korean president in Myanmar and the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship.

“The North has repeatedly made such wild assertions, but what is more problematic are some pro-North Korea groups within our society,” Lee said. “Just as the international community is demanding the North change, those people who unconditionally support North Korea must change; they are, after all, living in the Republic of Korea that has joined the ranks of advanced countries.”

Criticism of pro-North Korean groups has risen sharply in South Korea in recent months after some lawmakers-elect of the leftist opposition Unified Progressive Party displayed strong leanings to the communist nation and reluctance to criticize the regime.

Earlier this month, Lee visited Myanmar as the first South Korean president to visit the country in 29 years since the North’s 1983 terrorist bombing ripped through a Yangon mausoleum. The attack killed 17 South Koreans, including some Cabinet ministers.

Lee visited the mausoleum during this month’s trip.

“What wrong did they do and to whom? They were the victims of the division of the country and a ruthless terrorist attack. I could not hold back my anger thinking about who took their lives. I felt all choked up,” he said in the radio address.

Lee praised Myanmar for opening up to the outside world with sweeping democratic reforms, saying he hopes the North will follow in Myanmar’s footsteps, “change its thinking, make new friends and open a new age.”

South Korea and Myanmar can become good business partners, Lee said.

“It is significant for Korea to have another big market the size of Vietnam in the region,” he said. “Our country can be assured of the abundant resources of Myanmar and actually invest in it. If our two nations consult and make thorough preparations this year, Korean businesses can make inroads in earnest, beginning next year.”

 

Original article can be found here.