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Committee of progressive party deplores N.K. human rights, power succession

A special committee of an opposition party mired by allegations of election fraud and pro-North Korea leanings announced Monday a set of reform measures the party should undertake, including a clear condemnation of North Korea's human rights situation, its nuclear weapons program and hereditary succession of power.

The internal committee tasked with reforming the leftist opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP) called on the party to clarify its stance on North Korea-related issues and review its position on South Korea's military alliance with the United States.

The recommendations come as two UPP lawmakers face pressure to leave the party over their alleged involvement in the party's rigged proportional representative primary and their alleged espousal of the North's guiding "juche" philosophy of self-reliance. The party also reportedly calls for a breakup of Seoul's military alliance with Washington and a withdrawal of U.S.

troops stationed here to defend the South against the North.

The human rights situation in North Korea is "very serious, given the universality of human rights, and cannot be justified by the uniqueness of the North," the committee said in its announcement at the National Assembly in Seoul. "In order to bring actual improvements in the human rights situation, maintaining peace is fundamental, and helping the North Korean people is a priority."

The committee said its "clearly opposes" the North's development of nuclear weapons, as it poses a direct threat to the South, and criticized the communist regime's hereditary succession of power in terms of "general democratic principles."

However, it cautioned the government and political parties against making "unwise" decisions to openly attack the North, saying they should engage Pyongyang toward peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

The committee also argued the party's platform calls for a breakup of the South Korea-U.S. military alliance only after peace and denuclearization are achieved on the peninsula and in the surrounding region.

"We are being misunderstood as demanding an immediate breakup of the South Korea-U.S. alliance and withdrawal of U.S. troops,"

the committee said. "So we must review (our policies) and listen to arguments claiming the role of the South Korea-U.S. alliance should be reexamined from the perspective of security in northeast Asia."

The UPP won 13 seats in the 300-member National Assembly in the parliamentary elections in April. It is currently under a prosecutors' investigation over alleged fraud in selecting proportional representation candidates for the elections. (Yonhap News)

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