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Thu Nov 21, 2019, 11:18 AM

South Korea: LKP leader on a "hunger strike"

Last edited Thu Nov 21, 2019, 11:28 PM - Edit history (1)

(Source- JTBC News, 11.20) Liberty Korea Party leader, Hwang Kyo-ahn on a hunger strike.

Just over a month ago, in a commentary titled Political Turmoil in South Korea, I asked, "...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 Gwangwhamun demonstration? Anything could happen." Well now we have it. Right wing Liberty Party Korea leader, Hwang Kyo-ahn, has gone on a "hunger strike," the South Korean news media reported yesterday. This is a further variation on Hwang's holier than thou pose as an ascetic when he shaved his head as a protest against the suspected corruption of then Justice Minister Cho Kuk. That particular cause, after Cho's resignation, seems to have exhausted itself in light of the accusations against LKP floor leader in the Assembly, Na Kyung-won. Now, Hwang says he's "determined to die" as part of his sit-in hunger strike. His hunger strike started at 2:00 pm local time in Seoul according to JTBC.

The backdrop is the change in political tides against Hwang and his colleague, LKP floor leader Na Kyung-won. The latter has been accused in the press with corruption in connection with her daughter's college admission. This corruption is hypocritically tied to her self described sense of "public service" on behalf of the Special Olympics. Suffice it to say, her alleged corruption seems remarkably similar to that imputed to Cho Kuk, against whom she and Hwang campaigned making appearances in the streets in Gwangwhamun Plaza with hundreds of thousands to express their moral indignation until Cho's resignation. Now, Na plans to leave the country for a break from the focus on her corruption to address GSOMIA and SOFA disputes with members of the US Congress. Her appearance at the international airport on the way out of the country today presented an awkward sight to say the least. But it's better than staying in South Korea for the time being while two criminal inquiries are pending against her. This also gives Na the opportunity to dissociate herself from Hwang's hunger strike, while giving Na the appearance of actually being engaged somehow in a real political process rather than the obstructionism which is her forte in the Assembly as the LKP opposition leader. One has to wonder what her real intentions are. It almost gives the impression of leaving a house on fire.

(Source- JTBC News, 11.20) Reo Yeong-kuk, Justice Party, "While there is much talk inside and outside that the LKP must reform, the answer will not be a hunger strike; rather than cutting off food, he should cut off politics."

But back to Hwang's hunger strike. Hwang, The LKP leader and former prime minister under Park Geun-hye is resorting to the old tradition in the Chosun court to make an individual petition to the throne by placing oneself at risk in front of the palace royal hall. This involved the petitioner being subjected to the hardships of nature and the elements until one is either heard by the King and receives an appropriate response or literally dies in the process. Anyone who watches South Korean historical dramas is familiar with these scenes. However, what is curious is why a political party leader finds it necessary to do this when South Korea today is a democracy? Such actions are typically a manifestation of powerlessness and desperation. Yes, there is the dramatic patina of virtue which goes with such scenes where the historical actor risks their life for a principle. It is apparent that Hwang's demonstration is also drama for television, like shaving his head was several weeks ago. Apart from the dramatic pictures, it is certain that Hwang will be making trips to the rest room, and drinking water.

The public venues Hwang has chosen to to make his demonstration are subject to other pre-scheduled events which conflict with his plans. So he had to move from the venue in front of the Blue House to a position on the National Assembly grounds which again had an event conflicting with Hwang's demonstration necessitating another move. When the temperature dropped at night Hwang was seen donning his duck down winter outer clothing and a blanket, taking a departure from the historical practice. It was noted by newscasters that he used a cushion to sit on the hard ground surfaces. So Hwang is not so much placing himself under maximum deprivation or risking his health in an immediate sense as in the customary practice but grandstanding for the cameras. The act isn't going over well. One cannot overestimate the desperate situation the LKP leader finds himself in politically to undertake such posturing. JTBC news commentators and seasoned politicians referred to it as a crisis in leadership. It appears that Hwang may have coordinated this event with the evangelical leader Jeon Gwang- hoon, executive director of the United Christian Conference, who played a key role in the Gwanghwamun demonstrations where he called for the impeachment of Moon Jae-In, "effective immediately." Jeon has been criticized as a demagogue and right wing extremist.

Hwang said he's demonstrating against the harm the Moon Jae-in government has done to South Korea, and against the further harm it appears is on the way. Specifically he's referring to fast track legislation to which four other parties have agreed to circumvent LKP stonewalling on legislation during the 20th Session of the National Assembly. In his statement of grievances Hwang addressed the prosecution reform particularly the provision for a specific office for investigation of crimes by public officials. Hwang asserted this was a means for Moon Jae In to punish those who oppose him. Secondly, the fast track proposal increasing the number of proportional seats and reducing district representation seats, if approved on the Assembly floor is virtually certain to adversely affect the number of LKP representatives. This proposal according to Hwang was Moon Jae In's design to "serve himself." Yet this will benefit the under represented smaller parties in the National Assembly who support the reform. This is the real crisis for the LKP. Democracy in the form of proportional representation is rearing its ugly head. The far right conservatives in Hwang's party lose even more political power adding insult to injury after their collapse in the last election cycle. Hwang has adopted the GSOMIA issue as well. He's making the US argument on behalf of intelligence sharing with Japan. It's unlikely this will earn many political points in light the humiliating treatment South Korea has received from Abe's Japan over the past few months, and the continuing "shameful," browbeating the South Korean people have witnessed from US officials in the last few weeks.

(Source- JTBC News, 11.20) Hong Joon-pyo, "What sort of hunger strike? Will a hunger strike solve a problem? Before that there is the problem that must be politically solved."

It's not suprising that criticism of Hwang's hunger strike is coming from all quarters including his own party which is showing some signs of fracturing under the pressure. Obviously there would be criticism from the incumbent party in power, the Democratic Party which regards Hwang's hunger strike as a nuisance born of anxiety on his part. The Justice Party representative suggested that rather than quitting food Hwang should quit politics. Hong Joon-pyo the former leader of the LKP, with an eye to his successor in interest's faltering position, suggested that Hwang as a the party leader should be engaged in a political solution rather than a hunger strike. He also stated that Hwang's hunger strike wouldn't budge Moon Jae-in one bit. He made very critical statements about the matter on line. Another member of the LKP cited Hwang's action as more evidence of a leadership crisis in the LKP which requires the establishment of a new conservative party. A spokesperson for the Barun Mirae Dang on the center right, in favor of fast track legislation, was similarly critical of Hwang's leadership.

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Reply South Korea: LKP leader on a "hunger strike" (Original post)
soryang Nov 2019 OP
soryang Nov 2019 #1
soryang Nov 2019 #2

Response to soryang (Original post)

Wed Nov 27, 2019, 12:44 AM

1. Hwang Kyo-ahn's hunger strike enters day 6

Hwang Kyo-ahn's hunger strike passes the six day mark. He's got a relatively small crowd of supporters, mostly religious and far right types setting up tents and making noise all day and night outside the Blue House in violation of various laws. There is a similar but smaller group outside the National Assembly. Two things could possibly happen, one, a police dispersal which could become a source of violence. The second could be the death of Hwang Kyo-ahn, the right wing leader, using the tactics of the left and occupy to attempt to thwart the fast track legislative reform legislation that will damage his party's prospects in the next election cycle. Na Kyung-won has been visiting Hwang in his tent in front of the Blue House. After the extension of the GSOMIA agreement, Hwang's hunger strike, had the appearance of some efficacy. An occupy like demonstration has emerged near the Blue House, that is reportedly in violation of different proscriptions, the first a security zone around the Blue House perimeter which Hwang's tent and the assembly nearby apparently violate. The second a violation of noise restrictions in the area. The third a violation of "anti-gypsy" proscriptions which disallow squatting or erecting quarters on public grounds for overnight occupation. The demonstrators claim there is an overriding Constitutional guarantee of political expression which protects them. Some critics dispute this. Hearing a debate on this subject, it appeared that time, place and manner restrictions are not a thing on the right for these purposes. There are similar concerns surrounding a related squatter type operation around the National Assembly grounds.

Moon Jae-in has been out of town the last few days for the ASEAN conference which Seoul is hosting in Pusan. The legal and political dilemna on the plaza and streets in front of the Blue House is apparently being handled by Blue House staff and other party leaders in his absence. Thus far, they have acted with great restraint unwilling to paint the disingenuous Hwang as a "patriotric martyr for the cause," as is portrayed on the new jackets worn by the occupiers in the streets. These squatters and their tents festooned with numerous US flags. Even if the legal grounds exist to disperse them, it would be likely to escalate into an undesirable situation. Thus far, Democratic party leaders have merely asked Hwang to have his followers leave voluntarily. Police have placed notices on the tents of their illegal status suggesting they may be removed by official action. One wonders how long this fiasco will go on.

Placards, banners and signs at demonstrators' scene, say Moon Jae-in is a communist, that he is a dictator ruining the country, that he should step down, etc. Moon's defenders point out that the incredible restraint shown by police is merely evidence of Moon's substantial resume as a defender of human rights and the principles of democracy.

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Response to soryang (Original post)

Sat Nov 30, 2019, 12:53 PM

2. Well that didn't last all that long

LKP chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn announced an end to his hunger strike Friday after being taken to hospital late Wednesday while fasting to protest the bills.

Main opposition to stage filibuster to prevent vote on key reform bills

By Yonhap Nov 29


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