Lee Jung-hee, the leader of the minor opposition United Progressive Party, said Wednesday the remark supposedly made by Rep. Lee Seok-ki that led to claims that he was plotting an armed revolt was “a joke.”
She also claimed someone else in the alleged secret meeting of left-wing figures made the controversial comment.
“Out of 130 people in the meeting, one or two people mentioned hijacking arms and destroying infrastructure, which everyone else took as a joke,” Lee said in a press conference held at the National Assembly. Lee Seok-ki is suspected of plotting to subvert the Seoul government with an underground pro-Pyongyang organization that he helped form.
The National Assembly on Wednesday passed a motion on the arrest of Lee.
The UPP leader said one could see such comments being batted away by other members in the transcript, in an attempt to put weight behind her claims that they were not serious.
“If people started throwing accusations of ‘armed revolt’ or ‘instigation of rebellion’ based on a couple of jokes by one or two people out of 130, we will soon live in a society where no one can tell a joke,” she said.
Lee added that there is no evidence that the 130 people attending the meeting were members of “Revolutionary Organization,” the group alleged to have formed within the left-leaning East Gyeonggi Coalition and is suspected to be behind the revolt plot.
She said it was “very regretful” that people of South Korea have to confront the crisis of democracy by the recent incident, which had been “overly inflated by political intervention and spying” by the National Intelligence Service.
Sim Sang-jeung, who heads the Progressive Justice Party, urged Lee to comply with the investigation.
By Yoon Min-sik