[Column] One year after election interference, time to make dissenting voices heard
Kim Ri-taek, editorial writer
President Park is not about to change her undemocratic ways on her own, so pressure is needed to protect democracy
By Kim Ri-taek, editorial writer
A year ago today, the Democratic Party staff who were guarding the door of a certain apartment in Seoul’s Gangnam district went home for the day. The digital evidence analysis team of the Seoul Police had seized the computers of Kim Ha-young, a National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent, and started analyzing it that afternoon.
Surely not even people at the NIS could have guessed that the laptop and desktop computer the police received would become a kind of Pandora’s box that would rock South Korean politics for the next year.
That chain of events eventually led to calls for the president to step down. Backed by the reactionary conservative press, the Blue House and the Saenuri Party (NFP) have said that these calls amount to denying the results of the last presidential election. They have gone so far as to prosecute Catholic priest Park Chang-shin and demand that opposition members of the National Assembly be removed from their posts.
But if you sit down and think about it, there is nothing wrong with the argument made by the Catholic priests and DP lawmaker Jang Ha-na that Park should resign, considering that she came to office through an unfair election. The president of a polling organization was quoted in a book published recently by DP lawmaker and last year’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in as saying that Moon had pulled ahead of Park when the police made their announcement, at which point Park regained the lead.
A survey by Research View offers numerical evidence that the election was rigged. According to the survey of 1,000 people, 9.7% of supporters of Park Geun-hye responded that they would have voted for Moon Jae-in if the police had told the truth. If we expand this to all of the people who voted for Park (15.77 million voters), it represents about 1.53 million votes.
Since this survey was conducted on Nov. 19-20, it does not reflect the subsequent reports about 22 million posts on Twitter. Even so, this would have been more than enough to overturn the results of the election. But in addition, we would have to add the influence that the Twitter posts would have had on swing voters at the time. The election was definitely rigged.
But despite this, Park has tried to treat the Korean people like fools, claiming she received no help in the election and sarcastically asking whether she was elected by comments. Considering this, demanding that Park step down is a natural exercise of the rights of the people.
When you get down to it, the NIS is not solely to blame for the unfair election. From Saenuri lawmaker Jeong Mun-heon’s first remarks about the NLL on Oct. 8 to lawmaker Kim Moo-sung’s quotation of the inter-Korean summit transcript on Dec. 14, there are strong indications that not only the NIS but also the ruling party were fully mobilized to create a “pro-North Korea narrative” toward the end of the election when things started looking uncertain for the conservatives.
This is why Jang and Park Chang-shin should not be condemned for what they said. The only thing to be regretted is that the statute of limitations has expired, meaning that there is no legal method of overturning the election results.
Looking back at the past year, Park brought the calls for her resignation down upon herself. Even aside from the unfair election, Park’s campaign pledges themselves were rife with fraud. This goes beyond her backpedaling on economic democratization and welfare pledges.
The first place that Park visited after announcing her bid for the presidency was the bust of labor activist Jeon Tae-il. But after her inauguration, she has attacked the Korea Teachers’ and Education Workers’ Union and the Korean Government Employees’ Union and is pushing the Korean Railway Workers’ Union hard, leaving it nowhere to turn. Looking at cases such as these, anyone who believed that Park would keep her promises about “Korea for everyone” and “the great union of the people” must feel like an idiot.
Park is bringing political activism back to state institutions, pressuring the prosecutors to become the handmaiden of government, and altering history textbooks to bring them in line with the Yushin code.
During the presidential election campaign, Hong Sa-deok, Park’s chief campaign manager, said not to let anyone above 55 years old within 5.5 meters of Park. But now, Park keeps a Yushin jurist over seventy years old by her side, and she has actually appointed former President Chun Doo-hwan’s son-in-law as her party’s deputy floor leader, symbolizing her fraud.
During the remaining four years of Park’s presidency, there is no point in hoping that Park, who spent her first eighteen years living as a princess inside the palace, will change on her own. The only option is for those who are awake to make themselves heard.
In order to punish those who break the law and to prevent others from even thinking of doing so, we must begin by bringing the whole truth that was guarded by lead investigators Kwon Eun-hui and Yun Seok-yeol (in the police and prosecution, respectively) to light. And we have to keep our eyes peeled as we monitor efforts to reform the system.
The reason that President Park’s approval rating is not dropping despite the rigged election and her fraudulent campaign pledges can largely be attributed not only to the distorted political system but also to the conservative-leaning press. Punishment is due for dishonest writing by the reactionary conservative newspapers, which have even defended anti-constitutional behavior.
It is also time for the incompetent opposition, the Democratic Party, which still thinks it is the ruling party even after 1.3 million votes were stolen from it, to get its act together.
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