[EDITORIALS]Central issue is being skirted

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[EDITORIALS]Central issue is being skirted

Both the governing and opposition parties have been ignoring the substance of an important matter, directing it in the wrong direction. The perfect example is the ongoing debate between the Uri and Grand National parties over the allegation that Uri lawmaker Lee Chul-woo had joined North Korea’s Workers’ Party. Both parties are approaching the issue with their own political interests in mind.
Uri Party’s chief policymaker, Min Byung-doo, said yesterday that he has been collecting testimonies of victims who had been tortured by past administrations’ intelligence and law enforcement authorities over alleged National Security Law violations.
He also said the party would reveal what role Chung Hyung-keun, a Grand National lawmaker and former intelligence official, had played in such cases.
Mr. Min’s remarks sound like a warning of a renewed ideological confrontation.
Lee Bu-young, the Uri chairman, went further. “Taking this opportunity, we should investigate how some people accumulated their wealth by groveling before the dictatorships in the past,” he said.
The past administrations abused their powers of investigation, and this administration appears no different.
The Grand Nationals are no better. Kim Deog-ryong, the Grand National Party’s floor leader, held a news conference yesterday, saying the party will seek a parliamentary investigation in Lee Chul-woo’s case. He proposed to hold a televised hearing on the matter.
Both the governing and the opposition parties are sidestepping aside from the real question: Did Mr. Lee actually join the Workers’ Party? The records of his trial and other evidence do not answer that question definitively.
What is more important at this point is Mr. Lee’s ideological stance now. Whether he believes in a liberal democracy or not is what matters. We want to hear serious and honest statements from Mr. Lee. Only that will stop the ideological confrontation.
Mr. Lee, of course, has been legally punished. But we cannot say that the matter is closed and so not subject to more questioning. He is no longer a social activist; he is now a lawmaker. He is responsible for clearing up the concerns of the people.
After Mr. Lee makes his position public, the governing and opposition parties must resolve the case with a future-oriented view, not by constantly looking back at the past.
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