Published : 2013-12-09 20:07
Updated : 2013-12-09 20:30
The office of President Park Geun-hye on Monday angrily accused an opposition lawmaker of trying to incite terrorism after the legislator warned Park could face the same fate as her assassinated father if she rules the country in a similar authoritarian manner.
Rep. Yang Seung-jo of the main opposition Democratic Party made the remark during a party meeting, saying former President Park Chung-hee would not have imagined he would be assassinated by the chief of a spy agency he created and used for authoritarian rule.
"President Park should learn a good lesson from President Park Chung-hee, and should listen attentively to the warning that she could follow in the footsteps" of her father if she uses the National Intelligence Service for authoritarian rule, the lawmaker said.
The elder Park came to power in a 1961 military coup and ruled South Korea for 18 years until he was shot dead by his own spy chief in 1979. Assessment of him is mixed, with supporters praising him for his economic development drive, and detractors calling him a harsh dictator.
Park's office erupted in outrage at Yang's remark.
Senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun strongly condemned the remark as "scary terrorism incitement and encouraging harm against the head of state."
"This is not something a lawmaker is supposed to say about the head of state," an apparently emotional Lee said in a high-pitched voice. "The fact that a three-term lawmaker said this is nothing but a slight against the country and the people, a breach of national discipline and a challenge to democracy."
Lee also said the remark is "truly unforgivable."
A day earlier, another DP lawmaker, Jang Ha-na, urged Park to resign over allegations of state tampering in last year's presidential race and called for a by-election at the same time the country holds nationwide local elections next year.
"Is she a lawmaker of this country? Is this right for this lawmaker to demand the president elected by the people to step down and to call for a revote while specifically designating a date for it?" Lee said.
Lee also stressed that the election meddling scandal is pending in court and that Park has promised many times that she would take necessary steps depending on the ruling.
"Now, the Democratic Party should state its position on the presidential election and clearly announce its position on the remark that Supreme Council member Yang Seung-jo made about the possibility of presidential assassination," Lee said.
The ruling Saenuri Party also vowed to have the two DP lawmakers expelled.
After an emergency meeting of party lawmakers, Saenuri announced that it will push for a resolution calling for the two DP lawmakers' resignation and their expulsion from the National Assembly.
"The Saenuri Party strongly condemns the remarks defying the result of the presidential election, which shake up the
Constitutional order and divide public opinion, as well as the remarks cursing the incumbent president," the resolution said. "In addition to taking steps at the level of the parliamentary ethics committee to expel Reps. Yang Seung-jo and Jang Ha-na, we will not overlook this (situation)."
The chance of an expulsion motion being passed through the National Assembly is low, as it requires at least two-thirds approval. The ruling party currently holds a majority of 155 seats in the 300-seat parliament, followed by the DP with 127 seats. The rest are claimed by minor parties and independents.
The ruling party also demanded DP leader Kim Han-gil apologize and take disciplinary action against Jang and Yang, warning that the opposition party would have to bear all responsibility for failing to comply.
Later in the day, a meeting of the party's leadership decided to submit a bill to the ethics committee on Tuesday calling for the expulsion of the opposition lawmakers from the Assembly.
"All are prepared (for the submission), " Saenuri floor leader Rep. Choi Kyoung-hwan said after the meeting.
Meanwhile, the opposition party refused to accommodate their rival's demand for an apology from its leader and disciplinary measures against its lawmakers.
"We've reached a conclusion that it's not a matter for the DP leader to make an apology for," said a senior party official, asking for anonymity.
"Yet our party is studying ways (to let Yang and Jang) apologize for their improper remarks at an individual level," the official addd.
The opposition party has long demanded Park apologize over the scandal, but stopped short of openly challenging the legitimacy of last year's presidential race out of apparent concerns of a public backlash. Park has denied any link to the scandal.
Early in the day, Jang released a statement saying she was sorry for going against the party's official view, but that she holds firm to her opinion. (Yonhap News)