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.
Reuters
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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korean_legislative_election,_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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs