U.S. envoy to visit Seoul next week for talks on NK nukes

DP member’s Park remarks raise partisan tension, stall parliament

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Published : 2013-07-12 20:49
Updated : 2013-07-12 20:49

An opposition spokesman’s remarks deemed insulting to President Park Geun-hye’s father ignited political conflict Friday, prompting the ruling party to demand an apology and boycott all bipartisan proceedings.

Democratic Party floor spokesman Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo referred to former iron-fisted ruler Park Chung-hee as “a person who should not have been born.” In a news briefing he deplored the fact that the nation is ruled by Park’s offspring. 
Democratic Party floor spokesman Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

In an emergency Supreme Council meeting Friday, the Saenuri Party called on the DP leadership to make a public apology and to take appropriate measures against Hong.

The party requested the parliamentary ethics committee to discipline him for damaging the reputation of the National Assembly.

It also cancelled a scheduled preliminary viewing of the controversial transcript of the 2007 summit between late President Roh Moo-hyun and former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

“The comments are defamation and insult against the head of state. It does not stop there; it is an insult to the public and trampling on the country’s dignity,” Saenuri Party Chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea said.

He went on to say that the DP should clarify whether the comments are the party’s official stance or Hong’s personal opinion, and that the DP floor spokesman should retract and apologize for the comments.

“The party should also take responsibility, and an apology from the party chairman and actions against the party official should be forthcoming.”

Hong made the remark while criticizing the National Intelligence Agency over the alleged election interference by its agents last year and its revelation of the summit script that indicated former President Roh attempted to compromise the Northern Limit Line.

He condemned the president’s father and Kishi Nobusuke, who is the maternal grandfather of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a leading wartime politician and former prime minister.

Citing the book “Park Chung-hee and Kishi Nobusuke” by professor Kang Sang-jung of Japan’s Seigakuin University, he said the descendants of such people are in power in Korea and Japan.

Former President Park held office from 1963 to 1979 after he overthrew the government in a military coup in 1961.

Nobusuke was incarcerated as a class-A war crime suspect after Japan’s surrender but was never indicted, and went on to serve as Japan’s prime minister in the late 1950s and the early 1960s.

He was deeply involved in the running of the puppet state, the Empire of Manchukuo established by Japan in the 1930s in what is now northern China.

Hong also said that President Park Geun-hye and Abe show similarities in denying historical facts, and that the Korean president “appears to be dreaming of a Yushin republic.”

Yushin refers to the revised constitution introduced under the Park Chung-hee regime that allowed the former president to extend his term in office.

In the face of criticism, Hong later said that he was only citing a book, and that he regrets that his comments were taken as a personal attack on the president.

Senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun also called for Hong to make a public apology saying that his comments cast doubt on whether he is suitable to hold office.
Cheong Wa Dae senior press secretary Lee Jung-hyun (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

The two parties had agreed to view the transcript in order to verify claims that Roh had denied the validity of the Northern Limit Line or the NLL.

The bipartisan feud over Roh’s comments was recently reignited, and the issue has been further agitated by the National Intelligence Service’s actions regarding the matter.

Last month, the NIS disclosed its records of the summit and on Thursday made a public announcement saying that Roh’s ambiguous words regarding the NLL were tantamount to “giving up the NLL.” The NIS has earned criticism from both sides for its interpretation of the summit records, and the opposition bloc has branded NLL-related developments as being part of a ploy to divert the attention from the parliamentary investigation into the spy agency’s alleged election interference.

For its part, the DP hit back at the ruling party saying that Hong’s comments and viewing the transcript of the summit were separate issues.

“Disclosing the minutes of the inter-Korean summit was a very difficult decision. It required the agreement of over two-thirds (of the National Assembly) and (the decision) was agreed to by the ruling and opposition parties,” DP deputy floor leader Rep. Jung Sung-ho said. He added that the Saenuri Party’s decision not to view the transcript as scheduled was “completely groundless.”

“The fact that the ruling party, which has power and responsibility, has done this cannot be tolerated when disclosing the transcript was designed to put to rest political strife.” 

By Choi He-suk

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