[EDITORIALS]Reform, then legalizeThe Supreme Court ruled again that Hanchongryun, the university student organization, was an “anti-state body.” Although the organization revised its platform in a more moderate direction by removing its endorsement of the controversial North Korean-style unification formula, the court ruled that the revisions were not enough to lift the ban. The Supreme Court said in its ruling that the group had shown no intention of making other than cosmetic changes to its platform in an attempt to have the ban lifted.
The ruling is especially meaningful coming as it did at a time when the administration is moving to drop charges against Hanchongryun members wanted by police and to legalize the organization. The government and the student group should respect the Supreme Court’s ruling and must find a resolution within that framework.
Until now, the Roh government has done everything it could to save the banned organization. With the president’s attention, the government considered legal ways to drop charges against the wanted students; the justice minister and the Blue House civil secretary met with the families of the students. The public understood the intention to rehabilitate 170 university student outlaws, but many still criticized the government’s policy.
Seoul now must reconsider the Hanchongryun issue from the beginning. Justice Minister Kang Gum-sil has said “dropping the charges and designating an anti-state body are two separate matters,” but that is wrong. In a law-governed society, the Supreme Court’s rulings can never be ignored, and Ms. Kang is a minister who is supposed to lead the enforcement of the law. Some civic groups are criticizing the ruling as a “conservative and outdated decision,” a wrong-headed approach.
Hanchongryun must reform itself and its platform that calls South Korea a pro-American, fascist regime and supports North Korea’s “people’s democracy.” Just inviting the president to its annual meeting is not enough to get itself legalized. Civic groups and university heads working to lift the ban should instead be telling the group to change.