The first confirmation hearing of President Moon Jae-in’s personnel choices has taken on a new twist, with so-called “text bombs” taking center stage.
During the two-day confirmation hearing on Prime Minister nominee Lee Nak-yon, which began Wednesday, opposition lawmakers revealed that they were being bombarded with text messages from the public. The majority of the messages were attacks on the recipients, with many accusing the lawmakers of the same wrongdoings they alleged that Lee carried out.
The development has even prompted some in the opposition bloc to call for President Moon Jae-in’s intervention.
A Liberty Korea Party lawmaker checks text messages at the National Assembly on Thursday. One of the messages implies that his party will suffer the 2020 general elections. (Yonhap)
“(Bombarding lawmakers with text messages) is an act that fundamentally denies parliamentary democracy,” said Rep. Chung Woo-taik, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
Chung called on the presidential office and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea to take steps to put an end to the situation.
Those targeted include Liberty Korea Party Reps. Kyeong Dae-soo, Choung Tae-ok and Khang Hyo-shang as well as People’s Party Reps. Kim Kwang-soo and Lee Tae-kyu, who received hundreds of text messages from the public.
The opposition lawmakers have raised a host of allegations against Lee, ranging from irregularities in his son’s military service exemption to a state-run company purchasing paintings by his wife due to his social status.
Among the affected lawmakers, Kyeong was accused of having his own son avoid mandatory military service. The incident, branded political terrorism by the concerned parties, prompted Kyeong to reveal that his son suffers from epilepsy.
Although Lee and the ruling party have called for restraint, opposition lawmakers revealed that the text messages have continued, prompting the Liberty Korea Party and People’s Party to strongly condemn the senders of the messages.
“Text bombing parliamentarians conducting a confirmation hearing on behalf of the people is an unprecedented act of political terrorism,” said People’s Party’s spokesman Kim Chul-keun.
“The president’s supporters are destroying democracy by taking the stance that everyone not on their side is an enemy.”
Kim added the confirmation hearing was not “a playground” for supporters of the new administration. He condemned their actions saying “text-bombing is not the “spice” that makes a hearing more interesting,” turning around Moon’s words from the campaign period.
During the campaign period, Moon compared large volumes of text messages sent to party officials during primaries to the “spice” that added to the tension of the race.
“Blind support and text bombing does not help the Moon Jae-in administration, and the president is not free from blame,” said People’s Party Rep. Choi Do-ja.
“Moon must take this opportunity to clearly state that text bombing is an anti-democratic action, and express his firm opposition.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)