[EDITORIALS]Stop subsidizing violenceThe Gwangju Metropolitan Council plans to pass an ordinance to stop providing subsidies to civic groups that have been involved in violent rallies, the first move of its kind by a municipality. It said it is unacceptable for civic organizations financed by taxpayers to stage illegal and violent protests, which inconveniencing citizens and damaging public buildings. This is the right decision to make and we hope other municipalities will take similar actions.
Civic organizations have risen to become one of the leading sectors in society. The groups must stay independent of political and economic powers on behalf of and for the sake of citizens.
But Korea’s civic groups receive 180 billion won, or $190 million, in subsidies every year from the central and local governments. That is why some criticize the civic groups, saying they serve as running dogs of the political powers.
Many bogus civic groups have been said to be established to get money from the government. They are far from independent civic organizations.
Even pro-North Korean groups and groups that frequently stage violent protests have been receiving subsidies. Money to help civic groups has poisoned our society. The Gwangju and South Jeolla branch office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions staged a violent protest opposing the free trade agreement with Washington and damaged Gwangju City Hall. It was later revealed that the office of the labor union had been given 300 million won for a lease and 9.6 million won as a subsidy. It is hard to understand why the city of Gwangju gives such subsidies to a labor union.
Recently, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs ordered local municipalities to stop providing subsidies to civic groups that oppose a free trade accord with Washington. However, it is suspicious whether this move will work because many of those at the ministry who are in charge of providing subsidies are reportedly connected with civic groups.
It can be said that the civic groups are handling their own subsidies. If the central government is like that, things must be even worse at the local levels. The local council in Gwangju had to take the first step because the central and local governments have been wasting taxpayers’ money, fearing that if they cut subsidies for civic groups it would stir up the administration and the civic groups. The government must reform the system in which it provides subsidies to civic organizations.