Cho to take down teachers’ names from Web site

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Cho to take down teachers’ names from Web site

Grand National Party lawmaker Cho Jeon-hyeok’s fierce battle against a progressive teachers’ union has been brought to a temporary halt, but the fight is being taken up by others.

Cho announced that as of midnight, he will withdraw the names of teachers who are members of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union from his home page, on the advice from fellow GNP lawmakers. Meanwhile, around 10 GNP lawmakers, including Kim Hyo-jae and Chung Doo-un, have either put up the teachers’ identities on their own home pages or said that they will do so.

Cho posted teachers’ names, schools, subjects and the unions to which they belong on his home page (www.educho.com) starting on April 19. He argued that parents had the right to know whether or not their children’s teachers are union members.

His action conflicted with a verdict by the Seoul Central District Court, which on April 15 ruled in favor of an injunction against Cho sought by the teachers’ union, which requested the teachers’ identities be kept private. Last Tuesday, the Seoul Southern District Court ruled that Cho would have to pay 30 million won ($26,800) for each day he continued to post the teachers’ names on his site.

The court’s order did not bar other lawmakers from posting the names.

Though teachers and civil servants aren’t allowed to participate in collective political activities, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union had been accused of holding anti-government protests and being involved with the opposition Democratic Labor Party. The teachers’ union insists that its members’ actions are a legitimate form of freedom of speech.

“I chose to withdraw the list starting from midnight tomorrow because there’s a limit to how much I can be responsible for in terms of fines,” Cho said yesterday at a press conference. “Also, I don’t have any reason to offer up my money to a luxury union which spends over 10 billion won worth of union dues a year.”

The union, meanwhile, announced it will push for a mandatory execution order for Cho to pay the penalty fees, which amount to 120 million won.

Cho said it will take him a while.

“I don’t have the capacity to pay up all at once,” he said. “I will give [the union] around 10 million won to 20 million won every week when I get ahold of the money.”


By Cho Jae-eun, Ko Jung-ae [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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