News / Asia

Opposition Cries Foul as South Korea Moves to Ban Pro-North Party

FILE - South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the liberation from the Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule, in Seoul, Aug. 15, 2013.
FILE - South Korean President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the 68th anniversary of the liberation from the Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule, in Seoul, Aug. 15, 2013.
South Korea's government has filed a request seeking to ban a small, far-left political party that is seen as sympathetic to North Korea in a move critics say smacks of President Park Geun-hye's father's suppression of democracy during his long stay in power.
The Unified Progressive Party (UPP), which holds six seats in parliament and has contested presidential elections, is widely seen as supportive of the reclusive North's political aims.
The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, rather than a peace treaty. North Korea conducted its third nuclear test this year in defiance of U.N. resolutions and has threatened the South and its major ally, the United States, with nuclear destruction.
Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said a request to disband the UPP would be submitted to the Constitutional Court.
“We have concluded that the principles and objectives of the United Progressive Party are in line with North Korean-style socialism, which goes against the basic rules of free democracy,” Hwang told a news conference on Tuesday.
“The Cabinet meeting this morning approved of filing the request to disband the UPP,” Hwang continued.
He also said prosecutors had alleged that senior UPP members had plotted to “stage revolutions” against the Seoul government, a charge the UPP denies.
It was not clear whether Park, who is on a tour of Europe, had endorsed the move. However, last year, she described the views of two of its lawmakers as “dubious” and said they should not be allowed to serve in parliament.
The party secured 10.3 percent of the popular vote in 2012 legislative elections. The party's small demonstrations calling for rapid reunification with the North are a regular feature in Seoul.

During a Tuesday protest in downtown Seoul, UPP leader Lee Seok-ki slammed the government's attempts to disband his party as "dirty and despicable."

"This incident is indeed an anti-democratic and reckless act that is entirely denying the constitutional spirit that assures all the people's freedom of political activities," said Lee.

Two months ago, Lee and other members of the UPP were arrested on charges of plotting to attack a national communications center and other infrastructure in case of a war with North Korea. The case is ongoing.

The UPP says the accusations were made up by the National Intelligence Service in order to distract the public from allegations that the spy agency attempted to rig last year's presidential election.

The UPP is very outspoken about its desire to have the United States military presence removed from the South. It blames the U.S., not North Korea, for the tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Parties deemed openly hostile to the South Korean political system are banned. Unauthorized travel to North Korea is prohibited and possession of North Korean publications is strictly controlled.
Opposition blasts move to ban party
The main opposition Democratic United Party denounced the move to ban the UPP as a threat to the South's democracy, which has been developing since the late 1980s.
“It is very regrettable that this unfortunate incident is happening for the first time in the history of our constitution,” a party spokesman told a briefing.
The Ministry of Justice launched an investigation into the UPP following a petition filed last year by an alliance of around 30 right-wing groups calling for a ban on the party.
“This party fundamentally opposes the Republic of [South] Korea,” said Park Jung-soo, an activist heading the alliance.
The current president’s father, Park Chung-hee, led South Korea from 1961 until his assassination in 1979, a tenure marked by human rights abuses and the imposition of martial law but also by policies sowing the seeds for rapid economic growth.
UPP leader Lee Jung-hee caused controversy earlier for referring to Park Chung-hee by the name he used while serving as an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army when the Korean peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule.
The party has likened the current president to her father, using terminology that often echoes North Korean rhetoric.
Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

Editor's note: An earlier draft of this story indicated that the UPP receives 1% of the popular vote in national elections. It in fact received 10.3% of the popular vote at the most recent national legislative elections. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Dan from: South Korea
November 05, 2013 9:10 PM
In the most recent national parliamentary election the UPP received 2.2 million votes, or 10.3%.

This article is incorrect when it reports their vote at 1%.,_2012
In Response

by: Dan from: South Korea
November 05, 2013 10:54 PM
The correction is appreciated. :)

by: Dan from: South Korea
November 05, 2013 6:53 PM
This article is outrageous. The idea that the Progressive Party is "widely" seen as pro-North Korea is farcical. They are ONLY seen as pro-North Korea by the ruling party, I assure you. They are a social-democratic party that commands over 10% of the South Korean vote, making them the third most popular party in the country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs