Lee Jung-hee, chairperson of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party, went on a hunger strike on Monday to protest what she called a “witch hunt” against UPP lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, who recently was accused of plotting an armed revolt.
“A democratic person must put an end to the witch hunt against Rep. Lee Seok-ki, whether or not you agree with him,” Lee said at a press conference held at 1:40 p.m. in front of the National Assembly. “In order to stop the arrest motion on Lee from being passed, I will embark on a hunger strike.”
Earlier in the day, President Park Geun-hye signed a request for parliamentary consent to arrest the leftist lawmaker.
The UPP leader urged the main opposition Democratic Party and other members of the opposition to not agree with the motion against him but instead to scrutinize what she alleged was an “illegal probe and spying” by the National Intelligence Service. She also said while the hunger strike is not the best way for her to deal with the current situation, it is the only option viable at the moment.
Lee Seok-ki is suspected of having worked with other UPP members to form a secret organization called “Revolutionary Organization,” through which they allegedly conspired to subvert the Seoul government. Last week, the NIS announced that it had a recording of the leftist lawmaker planning such scheme.
The opposition party claimed that the accusation was a malicious fabrication aimed to sway public attention from the spy agency’s alleged meddling in December’s presidential election. It also said the NIS was seeking to “verify ideology” of its members. The UPP had also accused the NIS of paying a party member to spy on its activities.
The NIS denied the accusations of illegal investigations, and said that it “will not respond to every single groundless claim.”
By Yoon Min-sik