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Fri Oct 18, 2019, 07:11 PM

Political Turmoil in South Korea

(Source- JTBC News 10.18) Liberty Korea Party representatives may be charged in a group, as they have refused to respond to summons (from the investigating prosecutors for the April 25 "fast track" incident in the National Assembly.)

The right wing Liberty Korea Party didn't have much time to relish the resignation of the Cho Kuk, the short term Minister of Justice who barely lasted thirty five days after being appointed to reform the National Prosecutor's office in South Korea. This morning, prosecution office investigators arrived at the National Assembly Broadcast archives office to collect all video recordings related to last April's Liberty Korea Party sit in blockade of the National Assembly offices to preclude consideration of "fast track" legislative proposals (discussed here in an earlier blog entry Oct 12). The fast track proposals included electoral reform as well as prosecution reform. The presentation of a search warrant at the video archives indicates that the Chief Prosecutor's office has decided to proceed with a formal investigation of the Liberty Korea Party's unlawful acts in the National Assembly building despite their representatives collective refusal to respond to legal process. The prosecution could rely on filing charges against members identified in the video recordings without obtaining individual responses to summons or statements from the conservative representatives. As many as sixty representatives or staff members were involved in the disorder, which ultimately failed to prevent a fast track approval vote the legislative committee.

(Source- JTBC News 10.18) Liberty Korea Party opposition leader Na Kyung Won in the National Assembly, "I have already said I know that in order for government to finish its (fast track) investigation we will face investigation. Nevertheless, during the regular session of the National Assembly to take colleagues away (from our duties) really..."

Given the suspicions surrounding Cho Kuk's wife and other family members, it may have been a serious mistake for Moon Jae In to appoint him Justice Minister. Minister Cho's sudden resignation on October 14 was the right move in view of increasing domestic dissatisfaction and unrest evidenced by street demonstrations. South Korea's economic difficulties prompted by the ongoing trade disputes in Asia, the rift with Japan, and the unraveling of relations with North Korea have all taken a toll on the approval rating of the democratic administration. One domestic poll reported by JTBC on the 17th reported that Moon's approval rating had improved by more than three percent after the sudden Cho resignation. Today JTBC reported a Gallup poll saying that Moon's popularity had continued to fall and was below forty percent for the first time since he took office.

(Source- JTBC News 10.18) National Assembly Broadcast caught the fast track confrontation live on camera while it happened. LKP party members lead by Representative Na obstructing the National Assembly. Complete unedited archive videos are sought in the prosecution's search warrant.

The Liberty Korea Party can take little comfort from the polls. It is they now who are being chided publicly for being on the wrong side of the legal process. In addition to the negative publicity of their embarrassing impolitic display of weakness last April, they are now presented with the prospect of dealing with an apparently implacable and capable chief prosecutor. In addition to this, they are faced with potentially losing seats in the National Assembly based on the electoral reform to which four other political parties have agreed to fast track. This reform may come up for a vote in the Assembly in time to affect the April 2020 elections barring any unforeseen developments. However, unforeseen developments seem to have been the order of the day since the Park impeachment, and anything could happen. Who could have predicted massive demonstrations in Gwanghwamun, as seen on October 3, and October 9 in favor of the right wing party? The democratic party assembly leader commented on the unsavory quality of dictator reverence that seemed to affect some of the crowd. Leader Na responded that democrats had no room to criticize anyone for dictatorial traits. Na also commented that the warrant for National Assembly archive videos was a "hollywood like stunt."

(Source- JTBC News 10.18) Lee In Yeong, Democratic Party floor leader in the National Assembly. Hiding from the chief prosecutor..."instead of rationalizing self advocacy I wish those of you facing legal process from the prosecutors office respond now. No one, no matter who they are, is above the law."

Under these circumstances, polls mean little when the LKP doesn't have a majority in the legislature and is out of stonewalling and diversion tactics. So what will the wily LKP leaders come up with for their next move? More mass street demonstrations? Attempts by demonstrators to enter the Blue House? Violent black bloc type tactics seen in Hong Kong presaged in the October 3 Gwanghwamun demonstration? Anything could happen. The trial process against Cho Kuk's spouse began today, but the prosecution hasn't yet complied with discovery requests from the defense based on claims disclosure would adversely affect investigations related to former Minister Cho's family. The judge did not accept the explanation and further hearing is scheduled.


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