Slur about Park crossed the lineWhat was said to have been a mere “slip of the thumb” error while tweeting by main opposition Democratic United Party Representative Lee Jong-kul turned into a battle of tongue-lashing among rival parties. The brawl spilled over the political fence, with women’s rights and other civilian groups condemning the bad-mouth practices of lawmakers.
The heart of the controversy is a representative of the people snubbing common sense and social decorum. The legislature should take swift and stern action to repair the dignity of the representative branch. Lee has breached the code of ethics and should face due punishment.
After he caused an uproar by calling presidential front-runner Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party “the bitch” in a tweet, Lee explained that it was a typo meaning “she’s” short for “she is” while texting in a car on his mobile phone. “She is” in Korean is “geunyeo neun”. But he referred to Park as “she’s” or “geu-nyeon” which means “that bitch.” He later expressed regret, only to re-tweet that it must have been a “slip of the thumb.”
When his new tweet implied he was enjoying the controversy, Lee again expressed “regret” and pledged to be more careful. But his word game raises questions about his sincerity.
Nasty and foul language is hardly foreign to legislators. But Lee should be more criticized than Kim Yong-min, who made vulgar comments on the April 11 election campaign trail. Lee is a four-time veteran legislator, a graduate from elite Kyunggi High School and Seoul National University.
His grandfather is famous independent movement activist Lee Hee-young, whose brother Lee Si-young was the country’s first vice president.
Lee should have been extra careful not to shame the family name. Lee was notorious for lashing out at the president, ministers and ruling party. Petitions to constrain Lee were raised twice. An apology won’t do. The incumbent legislature promised to raise the bar on ethics. Under the ruling party’s proposal, a legislative ethics review committee of outside experts would decide on punitive actions against lawmakers.
The proposal is yet to be reviewed and made into law. But the new legislature should nevertheless act strongly against Lee’s slanderous remark to set an example and prove that it can be different from past assemblies.