[EDITORIALS]Don’t disgrace us again

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[EDITORIALS]Don’t disgrace us again

Around 100 members of a group calling itself a “pan-national group to stop the FTA” are planning to rally in Washington, D.C. early next month when the first round of negotiations for the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is held. Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and Korean Peasants League are among its core protesters.
In response, five government ministers have issued a joint statement urging the group to immediately drop its plan and express its opinions in a peaceful and legitimate way. It is frustrating that we have to worry about such an unexpected action at a time when the nation should gather thoughts and wisdom together, facing momentous negotiations that will affect the country’s future.
Like we emphasized many times before, the free trade agreement with the United States is an inevitable choice to advance our economic and social system and to launch the country’s economy one more time.
Still, we have to thoroughly consider each interest group’s opinion as the issue can significantly impact our society. But each group should express their perspectives according to legitimate procedures, and should not fly to the counterpart country and stage a rally.
At the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization held in Hong Kong at the end of last year, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and Korean Peasants League sent 1,500 protesters and disgraced the country by holding illegal violent rallies there.
If a similar incident happens in Washington D.C., the repercussion will not be comparable to that in Hong Kong.
The group’s real intention to stage overseas rallies with no practical benefit is questionable. How should we think about the fact that the Korea Scenario Writers Association withdrew from the group on Thursday after raising questions about the group’s identity, saying, “We found unpleasant signs of unconditional ideological struggle (in the group).”
The government also has a problem. It formed 17 advisory boards to hear opinions from diverse groups regarding the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, but only three boards have held meetings as of yesterday when it exchanged a draft for the agreement with the United States.
The government should strictly keep its promise to transparently negotiate with the United States after thoroughly considering the opinions and worries of each group, and the pan-national group should immediately stop its plan to hold an overseas rally that has no legitimate cause.
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