UPP calls out court ruling in front of global media

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UPP calls out court ruling in front of global media

The now-disbanded minor left Unified Progressive Party (UPP) said it will challenge the Constitutional Court’s ruling that stripped its five lawmakers of their assembly seats, arguing that the decision was an overstepping of the court’s authority.

Claiming the Constitutional Court has no legal authority to disqualify sitting lawmakers, Oh Byeong-yoon, the former floor leader of the UPP, said he will take legal action against the measure, filing a lawsuit to an administrative court on Tuesday to suspend the landmark ruling.

“The former five representatives of the UPP, including myself, believe that the decision to disqualify us is null and void because it was made by a non-authorized body,” said the former lawmaker at a press briefing Monday.

However, the UPP acknowledged that it was not legally viable for it to challenge the ruling that disbanded it for following socialist ideas pursued by North Korea and undermining democratic order in the South.

The briefing was organized by the dismantled political organization for foreign press media, which was attended by correspondents from Al Jazeera, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, a number of Japanese media outlets and members of the Korean press.

The announcement Monday appeared to be part of the UPP’s efforts to provide a critical interpretation to foreign media of the Constitutional Court’s ruling. Former party members also stressed that the party “never had any connection with North Korea” and has “never aimed for North Korean-style socialism.”

But despite the UPP’s denials, the court ruled that the party’s ideology was supportive of the North Korean style of socialism, which went against the basic order of democracy. It also noted the case against senior UPP Rep. Lee Seok-ki, who was charged for treason, as one of the key reasons for its decision to outlaw the party.

Prior to and during the conference, a UPP official asked to see the business cards of each Korean reporter to see whether they represented conservative media groups and then asked those journalists to leave.

When asked by a correspondent working for Cihan, a Turkish news agency, asked whether banning certain reporters was a violation of the freedom of the press, Oh responded that the UPP had always refused interviews with conservative media per party policy.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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