DP must part with pro-North groupThe transcript of the Unified Progressive Party’s Representative Lee Seok-ki’s clandestine gathering in May dumbfounds us. In the meeting, he nonchalantly praised North Korea’s nuclear weapons despite their immediate threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. He also used derogatory terms to describe the South Korean and U.S. governments, not to mention a persistent use of North Korean-style expressions and rhetoric throughout the congregation.
Lee’s closing remark, telling those gathered “to disappear like the wind,” makes us wonder if he really wants to act like a spy or underground operative for the North. Now the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic Party must quickly pass a motion to arrest him on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government so the prosecution can fully uncover the extent of his anti-state activities.
Then there is the question over who should take responsibility for allowing Lee and others to enter the National Assembly. This is bigger than just some innocent, leftist supporters who voted for the UPP in the last general elections without knowing the real face of the party. Instead, most of the responsibility should be borne by the Democratic Party, which created the political space for this anachronistic, anti-state group by joining forces with them in an attempt to beat the ruling party. The DP must apologize for that politically-savvy alliance before parting with the UPP once and for all. If the main opposition party shows a lukewarm or indecisive response, it will have to pay the price in the next election.
At the same time, those who granted amnesty to Lee and other political prisoners and reinstated them during the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration must be held accountable. A considerable number of them still play a leading role in the DP. Given the reality that it’s hard to know how many pro-North cells are enjoying benefits at the cost of taxpayers’ money here in the South, the courts must apply the Security Law very sternly in order to send a message and prevent those anti-state groups from entering the political arena again.
At the same time, however, we should not forget that progressivism is an important value. The uproar to eradicate this pro-North group must not lead to McCarthyism. In fact, this case is less about conservatism versus liberalism than it is a confrontation between patriotism and treason. Sim Sang-jeong, floor leader of the Justice Party, said, “If old, dangerous and outmoded forces are still here, they must be brought to justice.” We welcome her remarks.