[EDITORIALS]Hanchongryon’s true colorsAt the student government office at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, books on North Korea’s juche (self-reliance) ideology and editorials from the North Korean Workers’ Party organ, Rodong Sinmun, were recently discovered. The office had been used by the former head of the student organization, who also led the banned student group Hanchongryon, or Federation of All-Korean University Students. This activist is being detained on charges of violating the National Security Law.
This discovery revealed that Hanchongryon still follows the juche ideology and that students are still being used as North Korea’s propaganda tools. Two years ago, Hanchongryon declared it would be reborn as a group representing the general student. It said it would aim for campus improvements and political reform and refrain from ideological disputes. But when it held a surprise rally at a presidential commemoration of the May 18 Gwangju uprising, the group’s promises of change were nullified, as was the decision by police not to arrest its members.
After the governing party finalized its plan to abolish the National Security Law, Hanchongryon restrained its demonstrations. If the law is abolished, the group will become legal, and police will no longer search for its 40 wanted members. Prosecutors will likely drop their cases against 50 members who have already been indicted. Hanchongryon’s reticence appears to be a tactical judgment.
It is pathetic that this group is still studying juche ideology in its ivory tower. There are proper ways to learn about socialism. Reading North Korean propaganda only allows Pyeongyang to promote its system in universities. The students of the ’80s and ’90s admired juche ideology, and the aftermath is a serious problem. Many members of Hanchongryon’s predecessor, the National Council of Student Representatives, won seats in the National Assembly, and we wonder if that encouraged Hanchyongron in some ways.
Universities should deal more actively with this situation. They must not try to compromise with Hanchyongron. Schools must not let activists dominate their campuses. Law enforcement must handle the situation sternly. The Supreme Court still sees Hanchongryon as an anti-state group. Police and prosecutors must investigate these banned materials and punish those involved.