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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid