A judge’s twisted viewThe Supreme Court in July handed down a ruling that the Solidarity for Realizing the June 15 South-North Joint Declaration is an anti-government organization because the group had received orders from North Korea to propagate the erroneous notion that the Korean War was started by South Korea. It also praised the North’s juche (self-reliance) ideology. The ruling said, “North Korea is still an anti-state entity seeking to build a communist society in the South.”
However, Park Shi-hwan, one of the 13 justices of the Supreme Court, reportedly presented a minority opinion that we should not regard the North as an anti-state entity. He allegedly argued that if we apply our national security law indiscriminately, it could apply to many people, including the president, government officials and cultural experts. Therefore, “the prosecutor should prove if the North is really an anti-state entity or not, based on individual cases,” he said.
Of course, a justice is free to present a minority opinion. That kind of commitment to freedom of expression helped get us past the dark days of military dictatorships and fueled efforts to reform our society. But it is a different story when it comes to the issue of protecting our nation from a real threat and maintaining our identity. North Korea is still a danger to South Korea. Every one of us knows that well. The North is, of course, a partner for reconciliation and cooperation, but there is no evidence to suggest that it has changed. Rather, it sank our warship on the western sea border and is now threatening us with nuclear experiments.
Laws exist to embody justice and protect peace. The most important element here is “legal stability.” Whenever the yardstick of justice is shaken, the law itself is endangered. The Constitution is a basic framework of consensus that we all agree to uphold. Scholarly application and real-life application are different, which is why we should prioritize the stability of the law above anything else. It is hard to argue that we have witnessed social repercussions in the wake of surprising left-leaning sentences reached by a particular group of judges, of which Park served as a de facto leader.
To his strange interpretation of the law, a majority of judges said he made a mistake in judging reality from an excessively one-sided perspective. They said that North Korea is still an anti-state body and the permanence of the law should be respected. We are deeply concerned that his lopsided view may influence others who favor the North no matter what it does.