[EDITORIALS]Student arroganceThe senior presidential secretary for civil affairs met the president of the outlawed Hanchongryon, the Federation of All-Korean University Students. This is the first time a senior government official has met in person the president of the controversial illegal organization. Hanchongryon demands the unconditional cancellation of charges against all the 170-odd members wanted by the authorities. This demand is illegal and is unfair to the students who have already been sentenced. It is also a political action that aims to influence the prosecution. As long as the law stands, those who are wanted by the authorities have to first turn themselves in to the police or the prosecution. That is not something that should be changed by politics.
Since the appointment of its new president, Hanchongryon has announced that it would reform itself, but there are no signs of that happening yet. It seems to be trying to take advantage of the president’s stated willingness to look at the issue of the group’s legalization. The students’ families have met the justice minister and are now demanding to meet with police and prosecution leaders.
If the organization wants to redeem itself and its members, it must do several things. The first is to change its pro-North Korean charter, which defines South Korea as a colony under American occupation and pursues a people’s revolution. Also, the organization must discard its political color and become a student group focused on student issues.
The families of the wanted members should also restrain themselves. Rallies and candlelight protests are unhelpful, as are solo demonstrations in front of the Blue House, which has said it wants to help. Instead of regretting their illegal activities, the group’s leaders seem to want to flex their muscles.
Too many senior officials meeting too often with the group and promising to do their best to change the group’s status as soon as possible is not helping to teach Hanchongryon a lesson in humility. The government should not focus on legalization but on what promises and changes the group must give so it can be legalized.