Crying foul won’t workThe charges against members of the left-wing Unified Progressive Party, including proportional Representative Lee Seok-ki, of conspiring to overthrow the government have gripped the nation. Intelligence officials suspect Lee and other party members have been running a pro-Pyongyang underground group known as the Revolutionary Organization since 2004 that worked on plans to destroy state infrastructure facilities. The UPP has called the accusations an outrageous political vendetta against the party. The authorities maintain they have evidence that Lee discussed an armed uprising to sabotage telecommunications networks and gas storage tanks in a May meeting. The UPP insists the meeting was purely a political event.
The case does not only involve an active lawmaker but also a legitimate political party. A public party that swore to uphold the Constitution and runs on a budget paid for by Korean taxpayers is under suspicion of conspiring to rebel against the state. The party must faithfully cooperate with questioning by the National Intelligence Service and the prosecution to lay bare the truth before the people.
The starting point should be the questionable meeting in May. According to a transcript of the meeting, Lee said that everything done in North Korea was patriotic while it was the opposite here in the South. He called upon the members to rise against the “governing forces for the last six decades.” Saying that his followers would naturally face oppression and interference, he declared they must ready themselves for an armed war. In separate group talks, the attendees allegedly discussed blowing up telecommunication facilities and gas supply lines. Some suggested modifying BB guns to make them more lethal. One said he believed he was being followed by an intelligence agent.
The UPP said the meeting was just a party gathering and that Lee was invited as a guest speaker. It claimed the taped conversations and discussions were fabricated. If so, the party must prove that the meeting was a formal party event that is listed in the party calendar and explain exactly which parts of the transcript are distorted or fabricated.
The UPP has long lost public credibility. It has been under fire for its pro-North Korea tendencies. It spoke more like a North Korean party mouthpiece even when the country was under threat from North Korea. If it really wants to persuade the people, it must come up with more plausible and concrete explanations. Howls of wounded pride and victimization won’t do any good. That is the legal duty of a party that receives 2.74 billion won ($2.47 million) a year from taxpayers.