UPP lawmakers fight back against expulsion

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UPP lawmakers fight back against expulsion


Kim Jae-yeon, left, and Lee Seok-gi, lawmakers of the Unified Progressive Party, talk to reporters yesterday at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office before filing defamation suits against the floor leaders of the two major parties. [NEWSIS]

Two Unified Progressive Party lawmakers fought back against their potential expulsion from the National Assembly by filing defamation suits against the two major parties’ floor leaders.

Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon, who hold proportional seats, named the Saenuri Party’s Lee Hahn-koo and the Democratic United Party’s Park Ki-choon in their suits, filed at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

Before submitting the documents, Lee and Kim told reporters in front of the office that they are subject to a political attack orchestrated by the Park Geun-hye administration.

“The Park administration, which calls for so-called ‘grand national unity,’ is retaliating against us through its so-called qualification inspection,” Lee said. “It is a warning of a revival of the Yushin dictatorship where it is acceptable to eliminate those with different political opinions.”

As part of the government restructuring deal concluded on Sunday, Saenuri and DUP leaders also agreed on a bill to examine Lee’s and Kim’s qualifications as the first step in their removal from the Assembly. The lawmakers have drawn criticism for their controversial views on North Korea.

Lee disavowed South Korea’s national anthem and condemned supporters of the United States by saying, “It is more serious to be pro-U.S. than pro-Pyongyang.”

For her part, Kim stirred debate by saying, “We should recognize North Korea as a legitimate country” and “We should not attack North Korea even if the North attacks us like it did on Yeonpyeong Island.”

The two also earned their places on the ballot for the UPP through a rigged primary in March 2012 but refused to step down along with other candidates involved in the scandal.

Both Saenuri and DUP leaders previously decided to expel the lawmakers in June 2012. The bill regarding inspection of qualifications, to be proposed at the extra session in March, will give the procedure basis for the expulsion.

The bill calls for an inspection by the Special Committee on Ethics and then a full vote on the issue. Expulsion requires consent from two-thirds of sitting lawmakers.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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