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Conservative group paid anti-Sewol protestors

Apr 13,2016
The Korea Parent Federation was found to have paid 1,259 North Korean defectors to openly protest demonstrations held by Sewol victims and supporters, and for their opposition to the passage of special bills related to the Sewol ferry sinking.

Sisa Press revealed on Monday that by perusing the Korea Parent Federation’s ledger, it discovered that the federation had made payments of nearly 25.2 million won ($22,030) to North Korean defectors from April to November of 2014. The federation paid each defector 20,000 won daily.

SNS and other online communities are condemning the federation for having incited protests by paying people.

“It’s true we paid the North Korean defectors money,” said Choo Sun-hee, secretary general of Korea Parent Federation, “but it was a subsidy to assist the defectors’ transportation costs.”

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, a labor umbrella group, criticized the federation and left a comment on its website: “The real face of the federation is finally revealed, as an association that used money to restrict other people’s freedom of assembly.”

The main opposition Minjoo Party echoed these criticisms on its homepage: “The federation will have to reveal how it got the North’s defectors to join its protests, and where it got the millions of won to pay them.”

“What’s most regrettable about this revelation is that North Korean defectors have been recruited and paid to participate in rallies. Once forced to participate in controlled rallies of the North Korean government, now they are ‘democratically’ recruited and paid to participate in rallies,” said Chin Jung-kwon, a liberal arts professor at Dongyang University, on his Twitter account on Monday.

The Korea Parent Federation is a conservative right-wing civil society founded in 2006 and composed of 1,700 members. It regularly burns posters of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and last year welcomed the government-produced history textbooks. According to the ledger, the federation held a total of 39 rallies protesting demonstrations and hunger strikes by Sewol victims’ parents and their supporters, and later against the Sewol special bills.

At the anti-Sewol protests, protestors held up signs that read “How can your child who died in Sewol be labeled a hero who died saving others?” and some protestors even shouted expletives and statements along the lines of “You [victims of Sewol sinking] are not the only citizens of this country.”

BY CHAE SEUNG-GI, JEONG JIN-WOO and ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]


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