[EDITORIALS]A law already ignoredAfter President Roh Moo-hyun declared his support for the abolition of the National Security Law, the possibilities we have worried about are coming to pass. A South Korean executive of the Pan-Korean Alliance for Reunification who was indicted for violating the law said yesterday he would boycott his trial. He made a statement before his first trial session scheduled for yesterday afternoon, saying, “I am prepared for detention and I refuse to attend court, because I believe it is meaningless for me to be tried on charges concerning the security law in which unconstitutionality and contradictions are inherent.”
Such an attitude of despising a law in force resulted from Mr. Roh’s remark. When the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court ruled that the security law is constitutional and necessary, Mr. Roh said, “The law may be sheathed and sent to a museum.” When the president, who should be the ultimate defender of the law, disregards it publicly, who would obey it?
It is also a problem that security officials are taking a work break because they are not sure of the law’s fate. There is scarcely a security-related case anymore except for labor disputes. When the president, the highest government official, said the security law should be sent to a museum, no government official in Korea would disobey him. This is a hierarchical country.
Since the launch of the Kim Dae-jung administration in 1998, the enforcement of the security law has become more flexible. The number of security law violation cases decreased from 395 in 1998 to 116 in 2001 and to 93 last year.
If the authority of law collapses, the legal order of the nation, which is the foundation of a liberal democratic system, will be shaken.
The judiciary and investigative authorities should not be influenced by the remarks of the president and should be faithful in their work as long as the security law is alive. Those who violated the law should be dealt with in accordance with the law. Judicial procedures are separate from the discussion on whether the law should be abolished or not. The defendants who were indicted for violating the law, if they want to justify their positions on the grounds of democracy and human rights, should first follow the legal order of the nation.
Otherwise, they will be regarded only as those who attempt to destroy the South Korean political system.