[EDITORIALS]Freedom to speak is too broadUri Party’s plans to revise the National Security Law are worrisome because they could trigger security instability in our country. Compared to the earlier plans for a revision, the new plans reflect efforts to ease concerns of conservatives by increasing the penalties for violating the law.
Uri Party drafted a plan seeking penalties for those who organize or join an organization aiming at threatening the safety of the state under the criminal code’s treason charges. It also clarified the ambiguous identification of North Korea as “an organization that threatens South Korea’s constitution.”
But the problem is that the revision allows all kinds of pro-North Korea activities unless they amount to an uprising. First, the revision removed all clauses concerning penalties for those who praise North Korea, so spreading the North’s ideology and attending gatherings to honor Kim Il Sung cannot be punished unless violence is involved.
Charges of praising North Korea have been abused in the past. But South Korean society has not yet matured to the state that it can tolerate pro-North Korea activities. It is necessary to strengthen the clauses. We suggest that organized activities praising North Korea in public areas should be made illegal.
Penalties for entering the North and communicating with North Koreans were also eliminated in the revision. The ruling party claimed that violators could be punished under the inter-Korean exchanges law or the criminal code’s treasonous plot articles. But such ideas completely ignore our reality. The inter-Korean exchange act is too weak to use and the treasonous plot charges are extremely complex to apply.
Of the four proposed revisions of the ruling party, the plan to revise the criminal code’s foreign invasion language looks the most dangerous. Under the plan, violators of the current National Security Law must be charged with espionage, making it nearly impossible to punish anyone.
We demand that the ruling party update its plans to convince the people and compromise with the opposition party.
The name of the new law can be anything, as long as the law can guarantee this nation’s security and human rights. The ruling and opposition parties’ fight over whether to keep the National Security Law’s title or not is pointless.