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SKorea Moves to Disband Leftist Political Party

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.

Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn says the cabinet wants Seoul's Constitutional Court to disband the Unified Progressive Party, a group he said is not compatible with democracy.



"We have concluded that the principles and objectives of the Unified Progressive Party go against the basic rules of free democracy. Therefore, we brought the agenda to the cabinet meeting by an act of constitution."



The UPP has only six of 298 seats in parliament, but has fielded candidates in past presidential elections. Its members have been accused of plotting to overthrow the Seoul government, a charge they deny.

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."



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.

North Korea-linked activities are tightly monitored in South Korea, where it is illegal to praise the North Korean government or have any non-sanctioned contact with the communist state.

North and South Korea remain in a technical state of war since the 1953 agreement that ended hostilities between them was only a truce.

Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang flared earlier this year after North Korea's latest nuclear test. At the height of the crisis, North Korea was threatening nuclear war against its southern neighbor and the United States.

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