Controversy escalates over lawmakers' remarks against 1980 uprising

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Controversy escalates over lawmakers' remarks against 1980 uprising

Officials of four political parties hold petitions against three Liberty Korea Party (LKP) lawmakers over their defamatory remarks against victims of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising in 1980 before submitting them to the National Assembly's Ethics Committee, Tuesday. From left are ruling Democratic Party of Korea spokesman Rep. Kang Byung-won, minor Party for Democracy and Peace spokesman Kim Jung-hyun, Rep. Chae Yi-bai of the Bareunmirae Party and Justice Party spokesman Kim Jong-chul. / Yonhap

By Park Ji-won

Four political parties, including the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), filed a petition with the National Assembly, Tuesday, demanding punitive measures against three lawmakers from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) over their recent defamatory remarks against citizens participating in the May 18 Gwangju Uprising in 1980.

The three lawmakers ― Kim Jin-tae, Lee Jong-myeong and Kim Soon-rye ― could be deprived of their Assembly seats.

The four parties ― the DPK, the Bareunmirae Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace (PDP) and the Justice Party ― claimed in the petition that the lawmakers violated the National Assembly law by disparaging the pro-democracy movement and thus tarnishing the reputation of the legislature.

The parties joined hands Monday to take action against the three LKP lawmakers. They also agreed to push for submitting a bill to revise a special law aimed at punishing those who distort and fabricate facts about the May 18 movement.

The DPK and the other parties continued to criticize the LKP over allegedly defending their embattled lawmakers, calling on the party to expel them.

Meanwhile, the LKP's emergency body apologized for the controversy regarding its members' defamatory remarks saying the party will refer them to the party's own ethics committee.

"I, a representative of the party, offer my sincere apology to the victims of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising and Gwangju citizens for breaking their hearts over a forum held last week by several LKP lawmakers," LKP interim leader Kim Byong-joon said in a statement Tuesday.

He added that the remarks made by LKP members who participated in the forum were inappropriate as they are against democratic values.

"Including myself, I ask the LKP's central ethics committee to deal with the situation."

The LKP also clashed with Cheong Wa Dae in forming a fact-finding committee over dealing with the May 18 Movement.

On Monday, President Moon Jae-in rejected two LKP nominees as members of a new fact-finding committee. The committee is designed to determine the facts over the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, as the military government and subsequent conservative governments may have covered up the truth. Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom explained that it rejected the two as they didn't meet the qualifications.

The LKP earlier named three nominees ― Kwon Tae-oh, a former chief of a special operations team of the Combined Forces Command, Lee Dong-wook, a former reporter of the Monthly Chosun magazine, and Cha Ki-hwan, a former judge at the Suwon District Court ― to the nine-member panel under a special law on the fact-finding for past incidents.

Former district court judge Cha has also made some "concerning remarks" about the movement, but has met all requirements based on law, Kim told reporters, suggesting Cha may be appointed as the LKP has requested.

The LKP expressed regrets over the presidential office's decision. The party's floor leader Na Kyung-won who is now in the U.S. on a business trip reportedly said "We think Cheong Wa Dae made a political decision. They are qualified enough to join the panel."


Officials of four political parties hold petitions against three Liberty Korea Party (LKP) lawmakers over their defamatory remarks against victims of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising in 1980 before submitting them to the National Assembly's Ethics Committee, Tuesday. From left are ruling Democratic Party of Korea spokesman Rep. Kang Byung-won, minor Party for Democracy and Peace spokesman Kim Jung-hyun, Rep. Chae Yi-bai of the Bareunmirae Party and Justice Party spokesman Kim Jong-chul. / Yonhap

By Park Ji-won

Four political parties, including the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), filed a petition with the National Assembly, Tuesday, demanding punitive measures against three lawmakers from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) over their recent defamatory remarks against citizens participating in the May 18 Gwangju Uprising in 1980.

The three lawmakers ― Kim Jin-tae, Lee Jong-myeong and Kim Soon-rye ― could be deprived of their Assembly seats.

The four parties ― the DPK, the Bareunmirae Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace (PDP) and the Justice Party ― claimed in the petition that the lawmakers violated the National Assembly law by disparaging the pro-democracy movement and thus tarnishing the reputation of the legislature.

The parties joined hands Monday to take action against the three LKP lawmakers. They also agreed to push for submitting a bill to revise a special law aimed at punishing those who distort and fabricate facts about the May 18 movement.

The DPK and the other parties continued to criticize the LKP over allegedly defending their embattled lawmakers, calling on the party to expel them.

Meanwhile, the LKP's emergency body apologized for the controversy regarding its members' defamatory remarks saying the party will refer them to the party's own ethics committee.

"I, a representative of the party, offer my sincere apology to the victims of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising and Gwangju citizens for breaking their hearts over a forum held last week by several LKP lawmakers," LKP interim leader Kim Byong-joon said in a statement Tuesday.

He added that the remarks made by LKP members who participated in the forum were inappropriate as they are against democratic values.

"Including myself, I ask the LKP's central ethics committee to deal with the situation."

The LKP also clashed with Cheong Wa Dae in forming a fact-finding committee over dealing with the May 18 Movement.

On Monday, President Moon Jae-in rejected two LKP nominees as members of a new fact-finding committee. The committee is designed to determine the facts over the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, as the military government and subsequent conservative governments may have covered up the truth. Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom explained that it rejected the two as they didn't meet the qualifications.

The LKP earlier named three nominees ― Kwon Tae-oh, a former chief of a special operations team of the Combined Forces Command, Lee Dong-wook, a former reporter of the Monthly Chosun magazine, and Cha Ki-hwan, a former judge at the Suwon District Court ― to the nine-member panel under a special law on the fact-finding for past incidents.

Former district court judge Cha has also made some "concerning remarks" about the movement, but has met all requirements based on law, Kim told reporters, suggesting Cha may be appointed as the LKP has requested.

The LKP expressed regrets over the presidential office's decision. The party's floor leader Na Kyung-won who is now in the U.S. on a business trip reportedly said "We think Cheong Wa Dae made a political decision. They are qualified enough to join the panel."


Park Ji-won jwpark@koreatimes.co.kr


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