[Viewpoint] Witch hunt in a kangaroo courtThe Saenuri Party nominated political scientist Lee Young-jo as its candidate for the Gangnam B District in the general election. Then the progressives and leftists attacked him for his report as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In the report, he described the Gwangju Democratization Movement in 1980 as a “popular revolt” and the Jeju Uprising in 1947 as a “communist-led rebellion.”
These attacks were not based on proper understanding of English language or factual grounds. The party should have made counterattacks and defended Lee Young-jo. However, the Saenuri Party’s emergency leadership council heeded the criticism and rescinded the selection. It is a disgrace to the intellectual and political history of Korea.
Anyone who has actually read the paper would know that these expressions are not problematic. Professor Lee made objective statements. He wrote, “The hardline military authorities mercilessly suppressed the popular revolt.” The progressives and leftists insist that a “revolt” means a rebellion, but the claim is out of ignorance.
In English, a “revolt” is a widely used term to describe an uprising. In 2011, during the democratization revolution in Libya, an article in The New York Times’ Feb. 28 issue said, “French aid bolsters Libyan revolt.” Middle Eastern media source Al Jazeera reported on Feb. 21, “Libya revolt spreads to Tripoli.”
Moreover, the 2011-12 Egyptian revolution for democratization is often described as a revolt. On Jan. 19, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek reported, “Egypt revolt loses legitimacy as brotherhood ignores women abuse.” The English-language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia’s entry for the Egyptian revolution states, “Opposition groups planned a day of revolt for 25 January.” According to the claim made by the progressives and the leftists, the Middle Eastern revolutions for democratization are rebellions.
International media and scholars around the world have also described the Gwangju Democratization Movement as a revolt. On August 2009, British public service broadcaster BBC reported “a mass popular revolt in Gwangju” was bloodily put down. Even the May 18 Memorial Foundation used the term “revolt” on its official English-language Web site. Professor Lee described the suppression of the military authority as a “massacre” a number of times in the report. It is evident that he understands the historical significance of the May 18 uprising as a “democratization movement.”
In terms of accuracy of knowledge or controversy over his career, it is not Professor Lee but the emergency leadership council that needs to step down. Council member Kim Chong-in served as an advisor to the National Security Committee created by the military faction responsible for the bloodshed in Gwangju. Nine days after the sinking of the Cheonan, Lee Sang-don, a law professor who is also on the council, claimed that the incident was not caused by a torpedo attack and that the government was hiding the truth. Later, he apologized for his “imprudence.” Lee Jun-seok, the youngest member of the council, graduated from the prestigious Harvard University in the United States but could not translate what “revolt” means.
Professor Lee used the term “communist-led rebellion” not to define the entire Jeju Uprising. He was reiterating the events according to the report published in 2000 by the Kim Dae-jung administration. The original report states, “The Workers Party of South Korea’s Jeju branch was cornered as the existence of the organization was exposed, and they linked the tension to the opposition against the upcoming general election scheduled for May 10. Afterwards, they attacked police stations on Jeju Island, which began the uprising.”
Professor Lee cited the 2000 report and wrote that tens of thousands of civilians had been killed as they were caught in a clash between the military and communist insurgents. What Professor Lee had written was based on the report as well as facts.
Scary things are happening in Korean society. Intelligence is regressing and barbaric denunciation is thriving. It is a witch hunt in a kangaroo court. Out of cowardly panic, the ruling party offered up its own candidates as a sacrifice.
The monster born between the election and the discord is destroying the reason of Korean society. Only Lee Young-jo has been torn apart now, but it will make many people shiver in fear in the time to come. Korea is becoming a barbaric society where truth is attacked by a monster.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin