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Seoul seeks law to disband pro-N.K. groups

The Park Geun-hye administration will seek legal grounds to disband entities abetting the enemy, including North Korea, by pushing forward a revision of the National Security Law.

The government plan was publicized during the 2015 policy briefing session by eight ministries at the presidential office Wednesday. Park, in particular, reiterated the details reported by the Ministry of Justice, which unveiled its pledge to hand down stern punishments to those disrupting law and order.

Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said the ministry would “weed out entities undermining the constitutional value and bolster its investigative power for public security.”

Of the ministry’s several key measures for this year, legislation to disband anti-state or pro-North Korea entities has come under the spotlight.

The president appears to acknowledge the need to revise the National Security Law as she said that “it is significant to support systematic measures to secure the public views on constitutional value as well as law and order.”

Park added that “stern legal actions should be taken in accordance with law and principle, against those who claim their own rights but violate the law.”

The administration’s stance hints at a continuation of its tough public security drive this year, following the January decision of the Constitutional Court, which ordered the dissolution of the Unified Progressive Party.

Should the revised motion, pushed by the Justice Ministry pass the National Assembly, the government will have the authority to disperse pro-communist activities.

Park also stressed the need to take stern action in corruption cases involving the public sector.

She linked the necessity of a systematic overhaul across the country with steps toward unification, saying that elimination of irregularities in South Korea is a core prerequisite for unification of the two Koreas.

In addition, Justice Minister Hwang has vowed to seek heavier jail terms for sex offenders against minors. He also said the ministry would introduce a “three-strike system,” against those participating in illegal protests or strikes, as well those who commit violence against police officers.

In a separate briefing, the Public Safety Ministry said it would establish a special rescue team, which can respond to disasters on land within 30 minutes and to maritime accidents within an hour, in order to better cope with national catastrophes.

The ministry had come under fierce criticism for its botched initial handling of the Sewol ferry sinking on April 16, 2014, which claimed more than 300 lives.

The justice and security-related ministries have agreed to introduce a series of reforms this year to root out corruption in officialdom and to raise national competitiveness.

The government will introduce a code of conduct for minister-level officials and a work ethics education program for government employees.

The envisioned code of conduct is designed to rein in possible corruption among government ministers. It will require ministers to take an oath of integrity and bar them from receiving honorariums for giving job-related lectures.

Among the participants at the session were Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and Government Administration-Home Affairs Minister Chong Jong-sup.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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