NATIONAL

Parties clash over priests’ remarks against Park

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Nov 24, 2013 - 20:09
  • Updated : Nov 24, 2013 - 20:09
Controversial remarks by a group of progressive priests on Friday are adding fuel to ongoing political bickering between the ruling and opposition parties.

The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice, at a Mass in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, called on President Park Geun-hye to resign over the alleged irregularities in last year’s presidential election.

Main opposition Democratic Party spokesperson Park Yong-jin in a statement on Saturday called for the ruling party and Cheong Wa Dae to heed the Catholic priests words that have pointed out how much the situation has deteriorated.

The DP spokesman, however, later drew the line at calling for the president’s resignation, saying that the party only wants the truth regarding the NIS’ role, and for the president to apologize and punish those responsible.

“(The DP) should clarify whether (the party’s view) is that President Park Geun-hye is not the president and that she should resign,” Saenuri Party floor spokesman Rep. Kim Tae-heum said.

“If the DP is trying to deny the election (result) through the mouths of deviant priests, then the (DP) cannot avoid the public’s stern judgment.”

Since the Dec. 19 election, a number of allegations have been raised including that the National Intelligence Service and the military conducted online campaigns to aid Park’s election.

Kim also pointed out that the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice was taking part in the DP-led pan-opposition group calling for a special counsel investigation of the NIS’ role in the presidential election.

The ruling party has also honed in on a statement from Park Chang-shin, a senior priest from the Jeonju diocese, in which he defended North Korea’s shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeongdo Island in the West Sea.

“What should North Korea do if South Korea-U.S. military exercises are being carried out (near) the problematic NLL? North Korea needs to open fire. That was the shelling of Yeonpyeongdo Island,” Park said at the Mass held on Friday, a day before the third anniversary of North Korea’s attack on the island. In 2010, North Korean artillery opened fire on the island, killing two civilians and two marines.

Chairman of the parliamentary National Defense Committee Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the ruling party has called for the committee to adopt a resolution condemning the statement, and attacked the DP.

“To which country does the DP, which says Park Chang-shin’s words should be heeded, belong to?” Yoo, the chairman of the defense committee, said in a statement on Sunday.

“If (the DP) is unable to berate Park Chang-shin’s statement as absurd, the DP will have no place to stand.”

Yoo also called on Catholics to remove pro-North Korean priests, saying that followers of the religion will be unable to avoid criticism if they let his words go unpunished.

Park Chang-shin’s words have also riled the Ministry of National Defense, which stated on Sunday that the priest had carried out “an irrational action that insulted the soldiers who sacrificed themselves, civilian victims and their families.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)