[Viewpoint] You can’t hide your true face foreverMany are dumbfounded by the demise of the fledgling, liberal Unified Progressive Party. But those who have closely watched the pro-North Korea faction’s trajectory are not surprised. Just looking at their past manifesto, the limit of their political engagement was foreseeable.
The manifesto titled “The Promise of Gunjasan” had been drawn up by the National Liberation (NL) faction, the founding group of the scandal-ridden mainstream faction, in September 2001 on Mount Gunja, in North Chungcheong. After their declaration of vows to make a foray into the political arena, they rushed to join the union-backed Democratic Labor Party (DLP).
The manifesto is a kind of guidebook for the dissident group’s political activities. One article says the party must uphold its role as a political troop for the entire national democracy movement front, while adding that the party it must create should serve as organized arms for developing a sustainable fight throughout a revolutionary campaign. The bottom line is that the party would serve as a political and organized means to attain their purpose.
The manifesto also describes what they aimed to accomplish through the means of a political party. Its goal dovetails North Korea’s founding ideas and official name as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
First on the to-do list to attain their goal is the withdrawal of U.S. troops in South Korea and scrapping of the National Security Law that bans unwarranted association with North Korea. In short, its ultimate purpose for building a political force is to attain power and then remove the military and legal stumbling blocks in order to expand North Korea’s republic empire.
The motive for engaging in political activities is also described in the manifesto. The forces judged that a critical turning point has arrived for unification. The turning point refers to the first-ever summit meeting between South and North Korean leaders on June 15, 2001. Kim Dae-jung of the South and Kim Jong-il of the North shook hands on resolving the unification problem.
North Korea’s banner cry on unification is one attained through its own people without external interference, specifically Americans. It is why North Koreans incessantly demand withdrawal of U.S. forces in South Korea and removal of the anti-North Korean security law.
It is difficult to understand why the late president, who was a known expert on unification affairs, yielded to North Korea’s demands. The NL front chose to back Kim as the presidential candidate in the last stage of the 1997 presidential race even as the liberal front pledged united support for labor activist Kwon Young-gil at the time.
The faction expected a reward for its support for Kim and believed that the “evil anti-unification and anti-democracy” laws like the National Security Law would be killed soon after the two Korean leaders announced a joint declaration in June. It is why they envisioned a three-year plan to realize unification within a decade.
The three-year plan drafted in “Gunjasan” panned out more or less on track. The NL faction joined the DLP in 2004 to become a legitimate political force within three years of its declaration. The DLP obtained 10 legislative seats through the election that year and became a formal member of the National Assembly.
The next goal is their 10-year vision. Under the decade-long plan to establish a self-reliant democratic government, it must gain ruling power this year. But the ambition is too far-fetched to attain alone.
So it joined forces with other opposition groups for a coalition. It drew back the progressive sector led by Sim Sang-jeong it had pushed out from the DLP, and joined hands with Rhyu Si-min’s force that divorced from others who are loyal to late President Roh Moo-hyun.
For the April legislative election, the coalition party struck a pact with the main opposition Democratic Party to fight against the ruling party and succeeded in securing 13 seats. It marched closer to its dream of snatching ruling power through the presidential election within the decade.
But all its decade-old efforts crumbled under the implosive spasm of irregularities and violence. The faction’s goal was unattainable mainly because it considered politics merely as a means to an end.
They discounted all the democratic procedures in representative politics for blind pursuit of a unification goal. They are foolish to believe that they can become involved in the political system while disregarding political procedures.
Their paradoxical defects were ironically exposed by the party peer factions they were exploiting to serve their purpose. They could not have hidden their true face forever. It is fortunate for the nation that their mask came off before the presidential election.
*The author is senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Oh Byung-sang
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