Obsessed with the pastAfter winning a super majority of 177 seats in the National Assembly in the April 15 parliamentary elections, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) is increasingly looking to the past. Following an attempt to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling against former prime minister Han Myeong-sook for bribery through a retrial of the case, a senior lawmaker of the DP has demanded a reinvestigation of the crash of KAL Flight 858, which exploded in mid-air in 1987 en route to Seoul from Baghdad, killing all 115 passengers and crew on board.
In a radio interview on Monday, Rep. Sul Hoon, a ranking member of the ruling party, raised questions about the results of the government’s investigation of the case in 2007, which held North Korean agent Kim Hyun-hee accountable for the crash. The jumbo jet exploded over Myanmar and some fragments were discovered in the Andaman Sea near the Southeast country.
However, after suspicions arose over the crash — such as the allegation that it had been plotted by the National Security Planning Agency, a predecessor of the current National Intelligence Service, in the conservative administration one month before the presidential election in 1987 — the Roh Moo-hyun administration launched a reinvestigation of the case and reaffirmed that the midair explosion and crash was committed by Kim, the North Korean spy. Then, does Rep. Sul’s allegation translate into a denial of the conclusion by the liberal administration?
That’s not all. In a political event at the National Cemetery in Seoul, Lee Soo-jin, a lawmaker-elect of the DP, stressed the need for the government to “remove the graves of collaborators with Japan during the colonial days” from the cemetery. She vowed to enact a bill that will enable the government to do that.
Her comments are shocking. In an extraordinary meeting in the Blue House on Monday, President Moon Jae-in compared the Covid-19 pandemic to a “wartime situation” and called for a massive fiscal input to recover. Given such urgent challenges, can the ruling party afford to be stuck in the past?
The ruling camp’s obsession with the past only helps fuel partisan conflict. The DP must not forget that if it digs up past issues, that will provoke other parties to do the same in the future.
The DP must remember the bitter memories of then-ruling Uri Party, which collapsed shortly after snatching a sweet victory in the parliamentary elections in 2004 due to its relentless push for the revisions of the national security law. As a result of its obsession with an ideological approach by hardliners, the party fell apart shortly thereafter.
As history repeats itself, arrogance can ruin anyone. We are deeply concerned to see such a mentality re-emerge immediately after the DP’s victory in the legislative elections. Members of the party must not forget Chairman Lee Hae-chan’s confession that “we pushed our way over the top at the time regardless of what others think.”
JoongAng Ilbo, May 27, Page 34